Archives for Christmas



FREAK-Shot: Christmas Ornament Edition

Reader Tim Kelly sends in photo from a store in Lombard, Illinois:

As Tim writes:

I spotted an interesting sign while out Christmas shopping the other day.  The sign stated the company’s “breakage policy,” where any broken item must be bought, but that the store will only charge half price on the broken item.  The sign continued offered to repair the broken item, free of charge (I confirmed the free repairs from the shop owner, as it is not explicitly stated in the sign).

The sign was located on a mall kiosk selling Christmas ornaments.  I imagine breakage is a big issue for such a shop, as their product is relatively fragile and are highly enticing to bored kids stuck Christmas shopping with their parents.

My initial instinct upon seeing the sign was that this policy seemed to be inviting people to game the system.

Read More »



Have a Very Homo Economicus Christmas: A New Marketplace Podcast

Our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast is called “Have a Very Homo Economicus Christmas.” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript below.) 

It’s the latest in our annual series of explanations about how economists can take all the fun out of the holidays. In the past, we’ve looked at gift cards, deadweight loss, and gift registries.

This year, we have one simple mission: ask economists how they go about shopping for the holidays. Read More »



NBA Fans Give the League a Predictable Present on Christmas

Before labor peace came to the NBA, it was not uncommon to hear stories that the lockout was going to negatively impact fan interest in the game (here is one example in this genre). The story basically went as follows:

1. Fans become angry when the games are taken away.
2. The longer fans go without games, the angrier they become.
3. Stay away too long and the angry fans will never come back.

This story actually gets repeated every time a labor dispute that taken away games in North American sports. And the story certainly seems plausible.

A few years ago, though, Martin Schmidt and I investigated the impact disputes have upon fan attendance; and much to our surprise (yes, we tended to believe the stories sports writers had told us for years) we failed to find an effect. Attendance in the major North American sports is not statistically impacted by labor disputes. Read More »



Calculating Santa’s Workload

Philip Bump at The Atlantic attempts to answer an important question: what exactly is Santa’s Christmas Eve workload? He considered both the number of Christian children in the world and the geographic distribution of those children and reaches the following conclusion:

There are just over 526,000,000 Christian kids under the age of 14 in the world who celebrate Christmas on December 25. In other words, Santa has to deliver presents to almost 22 million kids an hour, every hour, on the night before Christmas. That’s about 365,000 kids a minute; about 6,100 a second. Totally doable.

Especially when you consider the uneven distribution of kids in the world. Santa needs to hit 22 million kids every hour. If Santa starts at the International Date Line and heads west, the first four time zones he passes barely contain that many kids waiting for presents. He’s already got three hours in the bank. Until, you know, he gets to Europe, which kind of breaks his schedule.

Bump offers a few caveats: not everyone celebrates on Dec. 25; some Christians don’t celebrate, while some non-Christians still expect a visit from Santa, etc. Overall, though, we think it’s a pretty good estimate — check out the post for detailed graphs.



Christmas Gift Spending by Country

The Economist features an interesting chart this week, showing the correlation between a country’s wealth, and the average amount its citizens spend on Christmas gifts. Note the two outliers, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Despite their considerable wealth, the Dutch have clearly maintained their minimalist austerity chic. Not the case in Luxembourg, which has the highest GDP per capita in the EU, and the third highest in the world. Read More »



‘Tis the Season to Get What You Don’t Want

Picture this: Christmas morning, tchotchke-free. This week on the Freakonomics Radio Marketplace segment, Stephen Dubner proposes an idea that might finally put an end to holiday deadweight loss. Remember that patchouli-infused candle your loving aunt gave you last year? You wouldn’t dream of paying more than $1.99 for it, and she paid $30. That’s $28.01 […] Read More »



What Did You Get For Christmas Last Year? Introducing the Freakonomics Personal Gift Registry

Christmas is prime time to think about deadweight loss. Scroogenomics aside, tell the world what you really want this year using the Freakonomics Personal Gift Registry. Read More »