From 24/7 Wall St.: Retail sales this holiday season are expected to rise 3.8 percent to a record of $469.1 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. While the increase is less than last year, it is a significant improvement from the slow holiday seasons the last few years.
How does 2011 compare to other years? While probably not among the best, it's also certainly not among the worst, according to 24/7 Wall St.’s analysis of the worst holidays since the Great Depression.
People are tempted to spend less when times are tough. Fewer presents are exchanged and people travel less. Those without work often despair. And the joy that is supposed to accompany the end of each year does not exist for many people.
24/7 Wall St. compared 2011 against each holiday season since the Great Depression. We looked at unemployment, GDP expansion (or contraction), GDP per capita, and the Consumer Price Index. These are good indications of whether a holiday season was merry or not. High inflation erodes the ability of people to buy goods and services. Slow GDP expansion or contraction means that consumer spending is likely to be in retreat. The effects of unemployment are obvious.
Not surprisingly, many of the worst holiday periods coincide with deep recessions. This is certainly true for the harsh times during the downturns of the early 1970s and early 1980s. The 1982/1983 recession had a record number of months in which unemployment was more than 10 percent.
People may look back on 2011 as a difficult holiday season for a number of Americans, but it was not among the worst, as history shows.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that President Nixon was impeached. In fact, impeachment proceedings were dropped following his resignation.
These are the Worst Holidays Since The Great Depression, according to 24/7 Wall St.: