Survey Figures Offer Pension Managers Insight Into Holiday Economy


Each holiday season, the U.S. Census Bureau releases its economic rundown of holiday economic retail figures. As trustees and administrators of public employee retirement systems, keeping up with the financial market is essential. Pension funds in the U.S. hold trillions of dollars in assets and are critical economic institutions in their quests to make up for some of the loss of income for retired state and local government workers such as police and firefighters.  

Here are several holiday economic figures gleaned from the U.S. Census Bureau's surveys: 

$14.6 billion. The estimated retail sales for the nation's department stores in December 2020 decreased 20% from $18.3 billion in December 2019. Source: Monthly Retail Trade Survey.

15.1%. The estimated percentage that December sales accounted for of total hobby, toy and game stores sales in 2020. Source: Monthly Retail Trade Survey.

$96.2 billion. The estimated value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2020, the highest estimated total for any month last year. Source: Monthly Retail Trade Survey. 

$33.4 billion. The fourth quarter 2020 seasonally adjusted after-tax profits for retail trade corporations with assets of $50 million and over, down $10.4 billion from the third quarter of 2020. Source: Quarterly Financial Report 

$2.6 billion. The value of U.S. imports of Christmas decorations from China for 2020. China led the way with 92.03% of the U.S. total imports of Christmas decorations. Source: International Trade Statistics, Harmonized System Codes 9505.10 (Christmas decorations). 

$462.2 million. The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree lights for 2020. Cambodia led the way with 60.01% of the total U.S. imports of Christmas tree lights. Source: International Trade Statistics, Harmonized System Code 9405.30 (Lighting sets of any kind used for Christmas Trees).

515 establishments. The number of establishments nationwide that primarily produced dolls, toys and games in 2019, a decrease of 17 establishments from 2018 (532 establishments); they employed 6,268 workers in the pay period including March 12, an increase of 31 employees from 2018 (6,237 employees). California led the nation with 94 establishments in 2019. Source: County Business Patterns

$701.9 million. The value of U.S. ports of tapered candles in 2020. Most of these came from Vietnam, representing more than 48.1% of America's imported tapered candles, followed by Canada with 21.6%. Source: International Trade Statistics, Harmonized System Code 3406 (Candles, tapers, and the like).

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