Climate change is making it difficult for Svalbard reindeer to get enough food
Climate change is making it difficult for Svalbard reindeer to get enough food

The Christmas supply chain in numbers

15 December 2016

Santa’s postcode, shrinking reindeer, and Queen Elizabeth I all grace our festive round up from the world of procurement...


The average weight of 135 Svalbard reindeer monitored by researchers in 2015 – this was 7kg (12%) lighter than when the study began in 1994. The weight loss may sound small but Sciencemag reports: “Female reindeer below 50kg give birth to smaller calves and even terminate their foetuses to save themselves if too little food is available.” Climate change is making it harder for the animals to obtain food: warming temperatures are causing rain to fall which, when temperatures fall below zero, locks away the grass, lichens and mosses they eat under a layer of ice.


The number of courses in a typical Italian Christmas dinner, including antipasti, pasta, a roast, salads and sweet puddings, followed by cheese, fruit, brandy and chocolates. These festive feasts usually last at least four hours.

34 years

The average age at which a British woman cooks her first family Christmas dinner, according to the Food Network. The good news for them is that 28% of British men say their partner’s Christmas offerings are better than their mother’s.


The least amount workers in the 600 factories in the Chinese town of Yiwu, aka ‘Christmas Town’, are paid per hour to make festive products for export to the West. Yiwu, 200 miles from Shanghai, makes 60% of the world’s seasonal decorations and generates £3m in revenue just from tinsel. Many of the workers are migrants who put in 14-hour shifts, six days a week.


The number of copies sold by last year’s Christmas No1 single, A Bridge Over You, recorded by the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS choir. A mash up of Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water and Coldplay’s Fix You, the single sold 80,000 copies fewer than the 2014 festive chart topper Something I Need by X Factor winner Ben Haenow. The Beatles hold the record for the most ChristmasNo1s – in 1963, 1964, 1965 and 1967 – but none of them were seasonal songs.

One in six

The estimated odds on a Spanish lottery ticket buyer winning something at Christmas. This year, 165m tickets have been sold so the total prize money on offer will be around $2.46bn, with the highest individual prize, known as ‘El Gordo’ – the fat one. Founded in 1812, the Spanish lottery is the oldest in the world – and the government estimates that the Spanish will each spend an average of $81.55 on tickets.


The number of pairs of socks given to British men as Christmas presents in 2014. This year the London Sock Exchange (no we’re not making this up) estimates that three out of four men in the UK will get socks as a gift. Although the Dogs Trust has launched the hashtag #GiveSocksNotDogs, many men have so many pairs in the drawer that they end up, in the words of Sock Exchange founder Dan Zell, “sock piling”.


The year Queen Elizabeth I ordered her subjects to have goose for Christmas dinner to celebrate the defeat of the Spanish armada. As the first meal she ate after the victory was goose, she decided this decree would be the perfect tribute to England’s brave sailors. It is not known how many people obeyed the royal command – goose was an expensive luxury then, beyond the budgets of the poor, even at Christmas.

H0H 0H0

The postal code for Santa Claus in Canada. The country’s postal codes are six characters long with letters alternating with numbers. First given to Santa in 1982, this code is used on 1m pieces of mail a year – every one of which is answered by Canada Post. 

Central London and Cheltenham
Salaries: Central London: £38,656 - £43,186/Cheltenham: £35,736 - £40,011
Central London and Cheltenham
Salaries: Central London: £48,305 - £56,163/Cheltenham: £45,341 - £53,023
CIPS Knowledge
Find out more with CIPS Knowledge:
  • best practice insights
  • guidance
  • tools and templates