A white Christmas might be a slim possibility for much of the country this year, but at least one other ho-ho-holiday tradition is sure to be widespread.
Christmas trees are everywhere during the holiday season, as the nordic tradition has taken root and spread across all parts of the globe. But Canada‘s winter makes the country a natural home for the seasonal favourite, whether it’s real or artificial.
The number crunchers at Statistics Canada have come up with some fun facts about one of Canada’s favourite holiday traditions.
1,738,212 — Total number of fresh-cut Christmas trees that Canada exported last year. Almost half of those came from Quebec. By way of contrast, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador did not export a single Christmas tree.
$51.3 million — The total value of all fresh-cut Christmas trees sold in Canada last year. Sales were down in every province except British Columbia. Sales were down nine per cent last year and have declined by 22 per cent since 2006.
$47 million — Value of artificial Christmas trees imported into Canada. More than $46 million of that came from China, with the rest coming from Thailand, the United States, Mexico or Vietnam.
It’s hard enough to scrimp up enough discretionary cash to pay for holiday gifts. But for Ben Tischler of New York City, getting ready for the holidays also means preparing to wed his fiancee, Alicia.
It has been especially taxing since he learned that jewelry prices would be higher this season.
“Everything was more expensive than I expected. The jeweler told me the price of gold has skyrocketed,” Tischler says. “This clearly isn’t the kind of thing I can wait to buy to see if prices come back down, so I bit the bullet.”
This holiday season could be a mixed bag for consumers, retail experts say. Electronics such as big-screen televisions keep going down, but if you want that laptop that turns into a tablet — Microsoft Surface, anyone? — or that fancy new camera, expect to pay a bit more than last year. And some traditional gift items could also take more of a bite out of your wallet as stores tap into the growing trend of using well-known designers or celebrities to hawk their goods.
All in all, prices are about 2 percent higher than last holiday season, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here are eight things that will cost you more this season.
HMV is once again fighting for survival after a fresh collapse in demand for CDs, games and DVDs over the summer set the high street specialist on a perilous course that could mean it breaches the terms of its bank loans early in the new year.
Revealing a first-half loss of £36.1m, its chief executive, Trevor Moore, said tough trading conditions meant there were “material uncertainties facing the business”. He insisted closing stores or putting the retailer in administration was not currently “part of our plan” but said he was seeking to cut running costs. “I joined the group because I believe it has a strong future,” he said. “If I thought we had tried everything I would not have joined.”
HMV, famous for its Nipper the dog mascot, banks all its profit at Christmas. Analysts had previously pencilled in £10m for this year but Moore said dire summer sales meant its performance would now fall short of City estimates. Like-for-like sales slumped 10% in the six months to 27 October after suppliers held back new titles for fear they would be overlooked as the nation focused on a summer of sport. The warning sent HMV’s shares into freefall, closing down nearly 40%, at 2.49p, giving the retailer a stock market value of around £10m.
The retailer, which remains burdened with a £176m debt despite having sold off the Waterstones chain and its live music venues to raise cash, said it was “probable” it would breach its banking covenants when they were tested in January.
A breach would put the banks in the driving seat and could result in their calling in their loans. The company said it would be able to meet a £30m payment due then and had “adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future”, adding it was “currently operating within” the terms of its £220m banking facility.
Despite a whittling away of consumer debt that has been underway since the recession, many Americans are still entering the holiday season unprepared to cope with the expenses that crop up around this time of year.
Think Finance, a provider of payday loans and other financial services for consumers with limited or no access to banking services, recently surveyed 1,000 Americans across all income levels who use various forms of alternative financial services — including payday loans, prepaid debit cards and direct deposit advances.
Although many of these consumers are on better financial footing and optimistic about their economic future this year, the holidays are still a source of stress and strain on their precarious finances, Think Finance said in the poll.
Some 45 percent of those polled said the holiday season brings so much financial pressure, they would prefer to skip it altogether. Almost half said their level of stress related to holiday expenses is high or extremely high.
That’s probably because nearly the same amount — some 45 percent — say they do not expect to have enough money set aside to cover holiday expenses.
You think you’re going to get a deal this Black Friday? You’ll have to get through the diehards first.
“Are you kidding?” Amanda Willis, 21, shouted into her phone, after secretly making it ring. “Yankee Candle is giving away those big candles for free for the next 10 minutes?!” Most of the hour-long line in front of her fled the J.Crew store at Jersey Shore Premium Outlets to dash over to the candle store. Willis checked out in 15 minutes. “I’m on a schedule,” the college senior and frugal fashion blogger told TODAY with a laugh mixed with both guilt and glee, recalling last year’s ruse.
After waiting for 30 minutes for parking on Black Friday, a guy cut off Tyger Danger, 24, and stole her spot. “I threatened to key his car,” said the Orlando, Fla., public relations executive who flies home annually to shop Black Friday with her family. Since she was girl, her mother has bought her a new Christmas dress each year. “I find the day very stressful,” Danger told TODAY. “As I’ve grown older, I find myself staying away from large crowds, but my mother loves it. She loves the hustle and bustle. She loves the decorations, the energy and excitement.”
Black Friday isn’t what it used to be. There are cops now, organized lines, and claim tickets passed out for the door busters. They’re necessary elements after a Wal-Mart worker was trampled to death in 2008 by uncontrolled crowds. Retailers have gotten better at crafting and marketing stingier deals, too. The day doesn’t even start on Friday anymore, with many stores this year opening at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving.