Festive facts and figures from the ABS

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December 18, 2006
Embargoed 11:30am (AEDT)

Festive facts and figures from the ABS

How do Australians celebrate Christmas? Australia's official statisticians have highlighted some holiday season statistics which give an insight into what we do at Christmas time.

It would surprise no-one to learn that Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures show shopping peaks in December. Last year overall retail spending increased in December by 26%, compared to the previous month. The largest increases occurred in department stores (up 64%), in recreational goods retailing (up 46%), and in clothing and soft goods retailing (up 38%).

Tasmania was the state with the largest increase in December 2005 spending (29%); the Northern Territory the smallest (15%).

Australia imports large quantities of Christmas decorations, toys and other festive material prior to the holidays. So far this year (up to October) there have been 34m stuffed toys (worth $59m) and 11m dolls (worth $49m) imported into Australia.

Over this period, there also have been $10m worth of Christmas tree lighting and $58m worth of other Christmas-related articles imported.

On Christmas Day last year 6,351 short-term visitors arrived from overseas to visit friends and relatives. This compared with 4,777 on Christmas Day the previous year. Around 7,589 Australian residents departed the country for a short-term visit to family and friends on Christmas Day last year, compared with 7,007 in 2004.

ABS statistics don't record reindeers. However, the ABS estimates that there were 59,469 farmed deer in Australia on June 30, 2005.

And perhaps the figure of most interest to Santa Claus is that there are an estimated 7.4 million households in Australia, 5.3 million of which have children.

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