If a war over Christmas really exists, it’s not much of a fight. We’re heading into the part of the calendar where we can expect to read about retailers who substitute “Happy Holidays” for “Merry Christmas”, with critics claiming the former as a dilution of the significance of the season. As it turns out, two-thirds of Americans in almost all demographic groups prefer the traditional greeting (via the Political Machine):
As the holiday season begins, 67% of American adults like stores to use the phrase “Merry Christmas” in their seasonal advertising rather than “Happy Holidays.” A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 26% prefer the Happy Holidays line.
It’s as much of a sweep as anything anyone will ever read in a poll. The only demographic categories giving “Merry Christmas” less than 60% were Black (50%-44%) and Other (55%-37%) ethnic categories, and people making under $20,000 per year (52%-39%). Men, women, married, unmarried, investors or not, the numbers all look strikingly similar — people strongly prefer the traditional greeting to the politically-correct substitute.
Retailers do not want to alienate people with the religious reference, but the opposite could be true, especially with those who spend the most. The numbers climb to the mid-70s for working-class and middle-class incomes, peaking at 77% for those who make between $75K-$100K, and dropping back to 66% for those above that. With such strong preferences, one wonders whether the substitution doesn’t have the effect that the retailers wanted to avoid in the first place.
So Christmas purists can rest easy this holiday season, as they have plenty of company. Retailers, however, may want to rethink their print orders for displays and mailers, and save “Happy Holidays” for their Memorial Day sales.