W. Joseph Campbell

The ‘five myths’ feature

In Washington Post on November 29, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Even on Sunday, the Washington Post has become a rather quick read. The fairly thin content clearly reflects the waves of staff reductions and other cost-cutting moves of recent years.

But one decidedly interesting element of the Sunday edition is a periodic feature in the “Outlook” section devoted to debunking “five myths” on a given topic. In past weeks, the topics have ranged from health care to Iran’s nuclear program to democratic elections.

The “five myths” addressed in today’s issue were, fittingly, about holiday shopping sprees. The article noted that only a fraction of retail sales takes place during the last two months of the year.

The author, Karen Dynan of the Brookings Institution in Washington, says:

“With so much attention focused on shopping and sales during the holidays, people often assume that the vast majority of our spending takes place around this time of year. But over the past decade, only about 19 percent of each year’s retail sales were in November and December.”

Dynan also says that online sales during the holiday season “made up less than 4 percent of fourth-quarter retail sales last year. Although this represents a big increase since earlier this decade, online shopping remains a modest part of overall spending.”

Interesting stuff. And an interesting feature.


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