This trade in “presents” grows larger every year.

It has become the custom of publishers to make their heaviest issues of books during the holidays. This custom is largely the result of the great growth of the habit of making holiday presents, a general result of which is that everything suitable for presents is manufactured expressly for the holiday trade. This trade in “presents” grows larger every year and shows no sign of falling off. It grew right on through the hard years, seventy-four to eighty; and last year, in spite of the complaints of dealers, we believe it was larger than the previous and more prosperous year.

This is partly due to the fact that new persons are every year drawn within the influence of the custom which is constantly extending itself among the people. Let everybody give a Christmas present to everybody is coming to be the motto of the season. We consider the custom now simply as a fact; it has its disadvantages as well as its merits, but we pass both sides of the question over to traders and moralists.

The Chautauquan, December 1885

“A bad holiday season would raise recession fears again, whereas a strong one would start to dispel those fears,” said Scott Hoyt, senior director of consumer economics for Moody’s Analytics.

That would give companies more impetus to step up hiring, he added.

As usual, success will depend largely on consumer spending, which accounts for about 70percent of U.S. economic activity. Their spending can impact stores’ expansion plans and inventory decisions into the new year.

And that trickles through the rest of the economy, from suppliers to jobs.

The November-December period accounts for 25 to 40 percent of annual sales and profits. For 2011, that’s almost half a trillion dollars in revenue from spending on everything from tablets to toys. The industry accounts for nearly a quarter of U.S. jobs.

— AP, November 2011


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