Monday, November 28, 2005

Are we ruining Christmas or are we expected to save it?

Here's a nugget of joy from the Wall Street Journal (as reported by Slate):

"Hanukkah doesn't start until Dec. 25. That represents the likelihood of an especially large season-end surge."

Slate does a good job debunking this particular bit of wishful thinking, but what does it signify when a top business paper makes such a bad mistake? As Slate tells it, the Jews are perhaps 1.7 percent of the population, and neither Hasidim, nor Tikkun-readers are big holiday shoppers.
Let's say, for the sake of argument, the average Jewish Hanukkah-shopping household spends five times the national average, or about $2,300. If there are 2 million such households, they'd account for about $4.7 billion in spending. That sounds like a lot, but it's a drop in the bucket. The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales, which it broadly defines as all retail industry sales in November and December, will total $439.5 billion. So, even if all Jews procrastinate and buy their Hanukkah presents toward the end of December rather than at the end of November, it still won't make more than a tiny difference in overall spending.
I knew intuitivly (as I am sure you did, too) that the Journal's projection was asinine, and Slate's argument seals the deal, making it abundently clear that the Jews can't be counted on to rescue the shopping season.

So how did that stupid sentance find it's way into the Journal?