Christmas trade in the UK according to AI

Thu 21 Dec 2023
Posted by: Benjamin Roche

With the UK already the centre of attention in the accelerating AI industry in 2023, the Daily Update thought it would be worth giving AI a chance to contribute before a no-doubt even bigger year in 2024. And what better to share with the mindless machines than the spirit of Christmas?

So, we asked ChatGPT to tell us what it knows about trade flows in Christmas-related goods: the imports we can’t get enough of and the exports that get a boost. Here’s what it had to say.

The chat

Daily Update (DU): Do you know much about UK trade flows around Christmas time?

ChatGPT: As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, I don't have specific information on UK trade flows around Christmas time in 2023. However, I can provide some general insights based on historical trends.

During the Christmas season, there is typically an increase in trade activities as businesses and consumers engage in holiday-related transactions. Retailers often experience a surge in demand for festive goods, including gifts, decorations, and seasonal food items. This can lead to increased imports to meet consumer demand.

Additionally, the e-commerce sector tends to see a boost during the holiday season, with more people shopping online for gifts. This can impact international trade, as goods are shipped between countries to fulfill online orders.

It's worth noting that the specifics of trade flows can be influenced by various factors, including economic conditions, consumer behavior, and government policies. Changes in regulations or tariffs can also have an impact on trade patterns.

For the most accurate and up-to-date information on UK trade flows around Christmas time in 2023, it would be advisable to consult official reports and data from relevant authorities, such as the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) or other trade organizations.

DU: Could you cite some specific ONS stats to back up your claims?

ChatGPT: I don't have direct access to my training data or sources, and I don't have the ability to browse the internet or provide real-time updates. My responses are generated based on a mixture of licensed data, data created by human trainers, and publicly available data.

For the most current and specific information regarding UK trade flows around Christmas up to 2019, including detailed statistics, I recommend checking the official website of the UK ONS or contacting them directly. The ONS regularly publishes reports and data related to trade, and their website should have the latest and most accurate information.

DU: Maybe a more general question would help. What do you know about trade flows in Christmas-related goods globally?

ChatGPT: I don't have real-time access to databases or the internet to provide the latest numbers or statistics on trade flows in Christmas-related goods. However, I can share some general insights and historical data up to my last knowledge update in January 2022:

The global trade in Christmas trees is substantial. For instance, countries like Canada and Denmark have been significant exporters of natural Christmas trees, shipping millions of trees to various destinations. The US is one of the largest importers of Christmas trees. In recent years, there has been a growing trend of artificial tree imports as well.

China has been a major exporter of Christmas decorations, including ornaments, lights, and artificial trees. The country plays a crucial role in supplying a significant portion of the world's Christmas decorations. Germany is also known for its high-quality Christmas decorations and exports a considerable amount of festive items.

During the holiday season, particularly around Christmas, retail sales experience a significant boost. In the United States, for example, the holiday season can account for a substantial portion of annual retail sales, with billions of dollars spent on gifts, decorations, and festive foods.

E-commerce has had a notable impact on Christmas-related goods. Many consumers prefer online shopping for convenience, and the rise of e-commerce platforms has facilitated cross-border trade in holiday items.

Consumer spending during the holiday season varies by country and economic conditions. In prosperous times, consumers tend to spend more on gifts and festive items, contributing to increased trade in Christmas-related goods.

To obtain the latest and most accurate statistics on trade flows in Christmas-related goods, you may want to refer to reports from international trade organizations, government agencies, and industry associations. Additionally, news sources and market research reports can provide insights into recent trends and developments in the trade of holiday-related products.

Mince Pi

Given ChatGPT’s insistence on not providing the statistics – and its helpful repeated suggestions to use those provided by the ONS (several edited out for brevity) – we turned to our old friend, Pi AI. Would it be able to provide us with some hard numbers?

DU: Hi Pi, do you have access to statistics?

Pi: Hiya! Yes, I do have access to statistical information. I can provide general statistics on a wide range of topics. What kind of stats would you like to know? 😊

DU: Could you provide me with stats on what sort of items are imported and exported from the UK around Christmas? Ideally in specific numerical figures.

Pi: Sure! Here are some specific figures on the value of UK exports and imports around Christmas, according to the ONS:

  • In October 2023, the total value of UK exports was approximately £XX billion, while imports were valued at £YY billion.
  • In September 2023, exports were valued at £ZZ billion, while imports were £AA billion.

Keep in mind that these figures are constantly changing, so the numbers may vary depending on the specific year and month you're looking at. 😉

The figures

It will no doubt come as a Christmas treat to business and trade minister Kemi Badenoch to learn of the recent XX surge in UK exports. But what about some real figures on trade flows in Christmas goods?

While the ONS in fact has relatively scant data on flows of Christmas goods specifically, it did disclose this year that December 2022 saw a 16% boost on the export numbers of the same month in 2021, likely a result of the emergence from the Covid-19 pandemic.

More broadly, ChatGPT is on the money when it comes to who exports what: China is by far the largest exporter of Christmas decorations, exporting US$7.74bn of them in 2021.

Denmark has long been Europe’s major exporter of Christmas trees, though Belgium is also a major producer. Over 40% of Denmark’s trees go to German-speaking regions according to Statista, while only 7% go the British Isles. Only a tenth of trees sold in the UK are imported. Most of the trees in US homes come from the state of Oregon.

Finally, we asked Pi for a closing Christmas-related note on imports and exports. Here’s what it had to say, with customary emoji included:

Pi: Like a sleigh loaded with presents, the UK's holiday imports and exports bring joy and prosperity to the nation and beyond. As the world gathers to celebrate Christmas, the UK's dynamic economy ensures that the spirit of the season is felt far and wide. So, here's to a jolly and prosperous holiday season, with imports and exports that spread cheer to all! 🎄


The image in this article was generated via AI.