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What do Americans like most, least about the holidays?

Facts and figures for the 2012 holiday season

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I was certain the world wouldn’t end Dec. 21. So now that all that negative news is passed, it’s time to write about the holidays.

Spending

Consumers will be spending more during the 2012 holidays.

Sales this year will increase 4.1 percent to $586.1 billion, according to a National Retail Federation survey.

In a first-time analysis, Shop.org predicts online sales will increase 12 percent over the last holiday season to as much as $96 billion.

U.S. consumers predict they’ll spend an average of $770 on Christmas gifts this year. That roughly matches the $764 they estimated at this time a year ago that they’d spend, according to a Gallup Poll survey.

Travel

On travel, AAA projects 93.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holidays, an increase of 1.6 percent over the 91.8 million people who traveled last year.

Ninety percent of travelers, 84.4 million, will travel by automobile, representing 26.7 percent of the total U.S. population.

Holiday air travel is expected to increase 4.5 percent to 5.6 million travelers, up from 5.4 million in 2011.

Celebrations

Eighty-eight percent of American adults say they celebrate Christmas, and 81 percent of this group celebrate it as a religious holiday, according to a 2012 Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Just 16 percent of those celebrants regard it as a secular holiday.

Another Rasmussen Reports survey finds that 88 percent of American adults celebrate Christmas with their family.

Other holiday activities reported on as part of the survey include:

  • Sixty percent plan to attend a Christmas party this year.
  • Fifty-four percent will send out Christmas cards.
  • Nine percent will go Christmas caroling.

Holiday stress

A third Rasmussen Reports survey finds that 46 percent of American adults consider the holiday season joyous. Nearly as many, 42 percent, find the season stressful instead. Twelve percent aren’t sure how they feel about the season.

Hanukkah and Winter Solstice

I wasn’t able to find any statistics for 2012 for estimates of the number of Americans celebrating Hanukkah and the Winter Solstice.

However, a 2007 Rasmussen Reports survey found 3 percent said they would celebrate Hanukkah and 3 percent said they would recognize the Winter Solstice.

Kwanzaa

The celebration of Kwanzaa, created in 1966 by professor Maulana Ron Karenga as a way for African Americans to honor their culture, is declining.

Karenga estimates a half-million to two million people in the U.S. celebrate Kwanzaa.

Whatever your tradition, I hope you enjoy your holiday celebrations.

Copyright 2012, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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