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Tyler Cowen is an economist at George Mason University. You may remember him for his quirky final exam. Dr. Cowen tries to apply economic thinking to areas that you might not consider. For example, he argues that Christmas day should always fall on a Wednesday:
I say the goal is to minimize non-convexities, which in this context means avoiding the possibility of no mail or UPS deliveries for two days running. That makes Saturday and Monday especially bad days to have Christmas.
When Christmas is on Wednesday, as it was this year, on that Wednesday you still can be reading the books which arrived on Tuesday and then a new lot comes on Thursday. The public libraries also close for only one day, not two or three in a row.
Christmas on Wednesday also means that the roads are deserted for all the other weekdays, since many people end up leaving town for the entire week. Then you can visit all those ethnic restaurants you wanted to get to in Gaithersburg or Mount Vernon without hassle.
And if you are taking a vacation abroad, and trying to use a limited number of vacation days, you certainly don’t want Christmas to fall on either a Saturday or a Sunday, which in essence wastes a granted day off.
Ben Walsh, a blogger for Reuters, has a different take. He looked at economic data and concluded that retail sales do best when Christmas falls on a Saturday. So the holiday should always be on a weekend:
Obviously, one conclusion you can draw from this chart is that having Christmas fall in the midst of a full-blown financial crisis is bad for sales. But to address Cowen’s point, over the last decade the average retail sales bump from a weekend Christmas (23.5%) has been higher than a Tuesday or Wednesday Christmas (18.75%).
Americans have spent a total of $84 billion more over the last two Saturday and two Sunday Christmases than the last two Tuesday and two Wednesday Christmases. And Saturday seems the best option of all, with the highest average percentage bump in sales (24.5%).