Why Christmas should always be on a weekend

January 3, 2014

Tyler Cowen thinks Christmas should always fall on a Wednesday, as it did in 2013. “The goal,” he writes tongue-in-cheek, “is to minimize non-convexities”. For Cowen personally, that means maximizing mail delivery, library access, paid vacation, traffic-free roads to optimize shopping, and trips to far-flung ethnic restaurants.

My response: for the sake of the US economy, Christmas should be observed on a weekend, preferably Saturday. Why? A weekend Christmas optimizes US consumer holiday spending.

Here’s the holiday the holiday shopping scramble, charted using monthly US retailer sales from 2000. It’s an oddly EKG-like pattern: something like the heartbeat of consumer spending in America. (All data for this chart and the second chart below from FRED’s monthly retailer sales data series.)

And as you can see below, the day of the week that December 25th falls on seems to influence just how big that month’s bump in consumer spending will be. In this chart, the y-axis is the increase in December sales compared to the monthly average over the other 11 months of the year:

Obviously, one conclusion you can draw from this chart is that having Christmas fall in the midst of a full-blown financial crisis is bad for sales. But to address Cowen’s point, over the last decade the average retail sales bump from a weekend Christmas (23.5%) has been higher than a Tuesday or Wednesday Christmas (18.75%).

Americans have spent a total of $84 billion more over the last two Saturday and two Sunday Christmases than the last two Tuesday and two Wednesday Christmases. And Saturday seems the best option of all, with the highest average percentage bump in sales (24.5%).

If these averages held up this year, moving Christmas from Wednesday (which typically leads to a 20% sales bump) to Saturday (which has an average sales bump of 24.5%) would have increased retailers’ sales by some $16.7 billion.

That’s a gift to the economy.



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Ben, it’s all about economics, isn’t it? Opening day for hunting should be on weekends too. For years, major manufacturers were forced to shutdown factories because workers took the day off to go hunting.

By moving all birthdays to weekends, we can eliminate wasted time on cake and coffee mini celebrations at the office and lost productivity “the morning after.”

Legislate that anniversaries, Halloween, Independence Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day, St. Patrick’s Day and every other holiday that falls Monday through Friday must be celebrated on Saturday or Sunday.

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Retailers turned it into their primary sales time, but they do not own His birthday or any other holy-day.

You’re an intelligent guy. Make money your purpose and you’ll end up like Midas.

Posted by SalesDuJour | Report as abusive

Christmas is a religious holiday, not an economic one. Can’t we for one moment forget the bottom line of greed and money and remember our religious holidays for what they are, our secular holidays (Washington’s Birthday, Lincoln’s Birthday, 4th of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Armistice [Veteran’s Day] and Thanksgiving) for what they are. Not just to have another sale? What’s wrong with America? Having Christmas and all the Holidays on convenient days for the greedy corporations, that’s what.

Posted by chekovmerlin | Report as abusive

No one goes shopping ON Christmas Day. Therefore this argument is invalid.

Posted by Burns0011 | Report as abusive

While we’re at it, let’s do the same thing with
New Year’s Day. Move it to a Saturday.
July 4th too. Heck, why don’t we
just do away with the rest of the
week and make every day a Saturday!
We would really make some dough then!
Wouldn’t we?

Posted by Revscott | Report as abusive

Yes, it should always be on a Friday.

Posted by davebarnes42 | Report as abusive