In 2005, 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 that year and in 2006, so I chose to track the same items this year to look for any noticeable change or trend.
As in previous years, it was pretty easy to predict the results. But the extent of the disparity might surprise you.
Here are results from the three sets of Google News searches I did during during this year's Christmas season, compared to the previous two years (the Dec. 22, 2007 searches were done at about 2 p.m.; previous 2007 posts are here and here; links to 2005's related posts are here, here, and here; 2006's are here, here, and here):
Here are the grand totals for each of the three years:
The association of Christmas with layoffs in 2007 occurred at over triple the rate (39.3% ÷ 12.2%) of its association with shopping. That is the highest ratio of the three years reviewed.
Here are just two examples of headlines that piled on in difficulat situations where people were let people go:
- Workers Laid Off One Week Before Christmas
- Merry Christmas: 80 Are Laid Off (link requires subscription)
So what I found in 2007 holds even more strongly than what I saw in 2006 and 2005, which is this -- 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, one notable exception -- "Christmas" is a word that is much more acceptable to use when "Scrooge" employers are letting people go.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.