Those who are venturing out to purchase Christmas gifts have many options for places to shop.

According to the Statistical Abstract of the United States 2002, there are 45,827 malls and shopping centers in the United States. That’s 9,000 more than graced the American landscape in 1990.

Add to that online shopping sources—11,802 according to the U.S. Census Bureau—and Americans have a plethora of choices when it comes to where they can spend their hard-earned cash.

And depending on the type of gift one is looking for, specialty stores abound to offer that individualized gift. According to the Census Bureau, in 2000 there were 150,946 clothing and clothing accessories stores; 10,428 department stores; 10,911 hobby, toy and game shops;  34,399 gift, novelty and souvenir shops; 22,611 sporting goods stores; 29,303 jewelry stores; and 11,662 book stores.

Wondering where most of American children’s toys, puzzles, shoes and sporting equipment came from? Look for the “Made in China” sticker.

The Census Bureau reported that China was the leading source of toys and other holiday gifts. The value of U.S. imports of just stuffed toys—not including dolls—from China between January and September of 2002 totaled $789 million.
Toys aren’t the only thing Americans are buying from China.

Americans have purchased $841 million worth of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and September 2002, the Census Bureau reported. “China was the leading country of origin for such items,” a bureau press release said.

And the artificial trees those Chinese-made ornaments hang on are likely from the same place. China was the leading foreign source of artificial Christmas trees in the United States, with $103 million worth of shipments.
But not all holiday purchases are imports.

American farmers sold $493 million worth of Christmas trees in 2001, up 18 percent from five years earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported.

Oregon topped the list for highest Christmas tree sales with $151 million. Following the Beaver State were North Carolina, Washington, Michigan and Wisconsin, according to the USDA.

Jodi Mathews is BCE’s communications director.

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