December 9, 2006

Weekend Question 1: What Time of Year Is It? (Year 2 Follow-up, Part 2)

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,TWUQs — Tom @ 12:01 pm

Last year, I sensed that journalists in general prefer to call this time of the year in commerce that of “holiday shopping” instead of “Christmas shopping,” but that when it came to people losing their jobs, they preferred to describe layoffs as relating to “Christmas.”

My instincts were proven correct, as you can see below from the results of three different sets of Google News searches in November and December (links to last year’s related posts are here, here, and here):


I’ve decided to track the same items this year to see if there is any noticeable change or trend.

Here are the first two of the three sets of Google News searches during this Christmas season, compared to last year (the Dec. 9, 2006 searches were done shortly after midnight; the post on the Nov. 26, 2006 searches is here):


Wal-Mart, Macy’s, and others may be embracing “Christmas” as a permissible word again, but reporting about shopping during the 2006 Christmas season is leaning more towards “holiday shopping” than at any of the other times I have looked at it. As to layoffs, though the number of instances where “Christmas” and “layoffs” were found increased, their percentage of the total layoff-related results went down significantly in the past two weeks. The tendency to associate Christmas with layoffs is still 2-1/2 times greater than the association with shopping, but that’s down from over three times as often a couple of weeks ago, and from a bit less than three times as often a year ago.

Still, what I concluded at the end of last year (with minor editing) is proving true again this year:

It seems beyond dispute that there is a strong bias against using the word “Christmas” to describe not only the shopping season, as noted above, but also events, parades, and festivals that happen during the Christmas season. There is, however, a bit of an exception — “Christmas” is a word that is much more acceptable to use when “Scrooge” employers are letting people go.

The third identical series of searches will be done on about December 22.

Cross-posted at


Previous Posts:
Nov. 26, 2006 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 2 Follow-up, Part 1)
Nov. 11, 2006 — Will Christmas Be a Four-Letter Word This Year?
Dec. 22, 2005 — When You Can Say What at This Time of Year (UPDATE 2)
Dec. 7, 2005 — When You Can Say What at This Time of Year (UPDATE)
Nov. 29, 2005 — What Time of Year Is It?
Nov. 23, 2005 — When You Can Say What at This Time of Year


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