Christmas is the pinnacle of all holiday decorating, but thanks to Martha Stewart and other home-decorating mavens' tutoring, Americans have expanded the number of holidays for which they go "all out" and decorate their homes. Over 60 percent of American households (61 percent) purchased Christmas decorations or other seasonal decorations in 2003, up from 55 percent purchase incidence in 2001. While no statistics are available about the exact number of homes that decorate for each major holiday, the holidays that are key for home decorating are Valentine's Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and, of course, Christmas. This is the third most widely purchased home product category.

Industry Overview

Retail sales of seasonal decorations totaled $4.7 billion in 2002, up about 4 percent over retail sales in 2000. The Christmas holiday accounts for the biggest share of decoration sales, or 62 percent of the total (see Figure 8.7). The fastest-growing category within Christmas decorations is "collectible" Christmas. These collectible ornaments usually are larger in size with special features and sell at premium prices, reaching $30 per ornament and above.




% CHG '00-'02

Total Personal Consumption in millions




Christmas décor




  • Tree and trim




  • Collectible Christmas
















Outdoor décor








Source: Unity Marketing

Figure 8.7: Christmas and Seasonal Decorations Industry Snapshot

The Christmas tree is the center of holiday decorating in most American households. The National Christmas Tree Association estimated that 79.5 million households displayed a tree in their homes in 2002, down from the 82.5 million households that had a tree the previous year. As a result of the decline in homes displaying Christmas trees, the Association sees competition coming not just from the 70 percent or so of households that display an artificial tree, but from the nearly one-third of American households that decide against the decorating hassle associated with a tree of any kind. As the population ages and children depart the nest, tree-centered Christmas decorating is likely to continue to tumble.

But while Christmas decorating may slow, consumers' desire to dress up their homes for holidays throughout the year is on the upswing. This is a category of household clutter for which people still clamor, at least for the time being. Thanksgiving and harvest home decorating grew most rapidly since 2000, as consumers turned away from the more ghostly, ghoulish decorations associated with Halloween in the after shock of September 11. But the Halloween season of 2003 saw many American households returning to the darker side of Halloween decorating, so that will likely be a growth category in the future.

Retail Overview

The majority of shoppers rely upon discount department stores for new seasonal decorations. But when they want something a little bit special, they often turn to the nation's 1,500 year-round specialty Christmas shops. The "granddaddy" of all Christmas stores is Bronner's located in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Bronner's is a virtual Santa's village covering 27 acres and buildings that enclose the equivalent of 5.5 football fields. Over two million visitors visited the store during 2003 and bought 1.3 million ornaments. And Bronner's doesn't limit its offerings to Christmas only, but "features trims and gifts for all seasons, reasons, and budgets."

The passion with which we decorate and celebrate the Christmas season is a uniquely American phenomenon. Department 56's Judith Price, director of collector relations, explains: "When you go to Europe, even to our Canadian neighbors to the north, you don't see the extravagant outdoor displays or the kind of over-the-top gift giving that we experience here in the States. The way we celebrate Christmas is a purely American holiday and reflects the blending of so many other cultures' traditions that have been brought over by wave after wave of immigrants." Department 56 is a $200 million company that has staked its fortunes on the uniquely American Christmas celebration. Best known for its elaborate lighted villages, the company also sells a full range of Christmas ornaments and trim through specialty retailers nationwide, as well as in three company-owned stores.

Purchase Drivers

Christmas decorating is a much-loved family tradition. While some families go in for the full outdoor display, others center their decorating on the tree and hearth. Bringing out the holiday decorations usually marks the "official" beginning of a family's holiday celebration. Many families maintain a collection of ornaments and decorations for years, annually adding new items to their collection to mark the passage of each year.

Nostalgia for Christmas past is a key driver for purchases of new items used to decorate. Consumers want to recreate those special celebrations remembered from childhood. Tapping into this trend for nostalgia, the Christopher Radko company has reintroduced the Shiny-Brite line of ornaments, re-creating vintage Christmas decorations produced in the 1940s and 1950s. Shiny-Brite was first made by Corning before World War II. The latest versions hail from China and are based upon vintage designs. A string of authentic bubble lights, rarely seen today but remembered from the childhood of many boomers, caps the new collection.

Demographic Variables

Women tend to take the lead in holiday decorating traditions, so purchase incidence of Christmas and other seasonal decorations is higher among women (64 percent) than men (58 percent). Purchase incidence of Christmas decorations peaks between the ages of 25 and 54. White and Hispanic households are slightly more likely to buy decorations than are black households.

Higher-income households of $50,000 and above tend to purchase more decorations. Household size and the presence of children in the home strongly relates with purchasing decorations. Larger households and those with children have a much higher purchase incidence of Christmas decorations.

Key Demographics of Buyers of Christmas and Seasonal Décor.

  • Purchase incidence peaks between ages 25 and 54, after which it drops.

  • Larger households buy more.

  • Presence of children increases incidence.

  • This is a female-led category.

Why People Buy Things They Don't Need. Understanding and Predicting Consumer Behavior
Why People Buy Things They Dont Need: Understanding and Predicting Consumer Behavior
ISBN: 0793186021
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 137

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