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Posted 12.07.05
 
 
   

Longer Holiday Season Benefits Retailers, MU Study Finds

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- The day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, marked the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Media speculate every year whether the length of the shopping season, which varies from 26 to 32 days, has an effect on sales. A new study by a University of Missouri-Columbia researcher confirmed the popular belief that people spend more on Christmas shopping when there are more days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Emek Basker, assistant professor of economics at Mizzou, found that for every additional shopping day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, consumers spend an extra 3.5 percent on holiday purchases, which accounts for approximately $6.50 per additional day.

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Economics Letters

"News stories typically argue that shorter shopping seasons reduce consumers' opportunities to make 'impulse' purchases, affecting purchases of both gifts and items of personal consumption," Basker said. "Our research confirms this speculation."

Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Monthly Retail Trade Survey, which covers more than 10,000 retail businesses each month, Basker looked at Christmas season sales from 1967 to 2000. She found that people generally spent more when they had 32 shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas than in years when there were only 26 days between the two holidays.

Sales increased in the categories of apparel, sporting goods, furniture, hardware, jewelry, drugstore merchandise and general merchandise among others. Electronics had a particularly large jump in sales, with a 5 percent increase. However, both food and liquor sales were the same no matter the length of the shopping season.

Basker's study will be published in the December issue of the journal Economics Letters.

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