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December 21, 2001
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)

A Statistical look at Christmas

Australia's official statisticians have marked Christmas by highlighting some holiday season statistics which give an insight into how Australians go about celebrating Christmas.

As most people would expect, Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures show shopping peaks in December. Last year retail spending increased in December compared to November, and was up by 27% overall. The largest increases occurred in department stores (up 77%), in clothing and soft goods retailing (up 47%), and in recreational goods retailing (up 35%).

Victoria was the State with the largest increase in December 2000 spending (29%); the Northern Territory the smallest (13%).

Christmas births have dropped over the last 10 years from 467 in 1990 to 384 in 2000, an 18% decline. However the number of marriages on Christmas day has been increasing - there were 67 Christmas marriages in Australia in 2000 compared to 21 in 1990.

Australia imports large quantities of Christmas decorations, toys and other festive material prior to the holidays. During 2001 imports of Christmas tree lighting totalled just over $21 million, dolls $48m, stuffed toys $74m and other Christmas-related articles $48m.

A search of demography records shows Christmas and some Christmas themes - intentional or otherwise - feature in a dozen Australian town and location names. There is Christmas Island; Christmas Creek and Christmas Hills in Queensland; Christmas Town in Victoria; Bells Beach (Vic); Turkey Creek (NT) and Turkey Hill (WA); Wisemans Creek and Wisemans Ferry (NSW); Snowball (NSW) and Snowtown (SA); and Shepherds Creek (Vic).