The United Santas of America
The United Santas of America

Christmas is a special time for many Americans, who like to convince themselves at this time of year that it really is better to give than to receive. But which are the most generous states in the country? To find out, MainStreet looked at two categories of spending largesse on an individual and state level. We looked at state-wide contributions to the national retail economy and individual-level donations to charity. Here is how we broke it down:

  • Using the most recent data (2009) for retail trade from the Census Bureau's Statistical Abstract, we ranked the states on absolute sales across seven categories: furniture, electronics/appliances, health/personal care products, clothing, sporting goods and media, general merchandise, and miscellaneous stores. We didn't control for population, since the states that put the most money into local and national stores make a generous contribution to the national consumer economy as a whole.
  • Using the most recent data from the census and the IRS (and compiled by the Fraser Institute), we ranked states on two metrics  the percentage of taxpayers who donate to charity and the average proportion of yearly income they donate  to order them based on their philanthropic generosity.
Combining all of these numbers into one cumulative ranking, we rank the top 25 here to establish who the "Santa states" are. To find out which states came in at the bottom of the rankings, check out the accompanying feature on " Scrooge states" on MainStreet. Photo Credit: istolethetv

25. Oklahoma (tie)
25. Oklahoma (tie)

Retail Spending: $16.75 billion Retail Spending Rank: 29/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 21.2% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.54% Giving Rank: 20/50 -- Overall Rank: 25/50 Photo Credit: Getty Images

25. Missouri (tie)
25. Missouri (tie)

Retail Spending: $27.98 billion Retail Spending Rank: 18/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 23.7% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.25% Giving Rank: 31/50 -- Overall Rank: 25/50 Photo Credit: happysteve

23. Pennsylvania
23. Pennsylvania

Retail Spending: $53.88 billion Retail Spending Rank: 6/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 24.6% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.09% Giving Rank: 38/50 -- Overall Rank: 23/50 Photo Credit: Tony the Misfit

22. Washington (tie)
22. Washington (tie)

Retail Spending: $32.09 billion Retail Spending Rank: 15/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 27.5% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.21% Giving Rank: 25/50 -- Overall Rank: 22/50 Photo Credit: fddi1

22. Tennessee (tie)
22. Tennessee (tie)

Retail Spending: $32.18 billion Retail Spending Rank: 14/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 19.2% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.5% Giving Rank: 26/50 -- Overall Rank: 22/50 Photo Credit: Exothermic

20. Texas
20. Texas

Retail Spending: $108.93 billion Retail Spending Rank: 2/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 19.2% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.29% Giving Rank: 36/50 -- Overall Rank: 20/50 Photo Credit: Getty Images

19. Oregon (tie)
19. Oregon (tie)

Retail Spending: $19.21 billion Retail Spending Rank: 27/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 31% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.33% Giving Rank: 10/50 -- Overall Rank: 19/50 Photo Credit: bandita

19. Florida (tie)
19. Florida (tie)

Retail Spending: $99.07 billion Retail Spending Rank: 4/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 21.9% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.25% Giving Rank: 33/50 -- Overall Rank: 19/50 Photo Credit: Karen Horton

17. Massachusetts
17. Massachusetts

Retail Spending: $29.44 billion Retail Spending Rank: 17/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 32.5% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.12% Giving Rank: 19/50 -- Overall Rank: 17/50 Photo Credit: Paul Keleher

16. South Carolina
16. South Carolina

Retail Spending: $21.58 billion Retail Spending Rank: 25/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 25.8% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.66% Giving Rank: 10/50 -- Overall Rank: 16/50 Photo Credit: Shoshanah

15. Utah (tie)
15. Utah (tie)

Retail Spending: $12.09 billion Retail Spending Rank: 33/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 33.4% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 3.09% Giving Rank: 1/50 -- Overall Rank: 15/50 Photo Credit: Pink Sherbet Photography

15. Connecticut (tie)
15. Connecticut (tie)

Retail Spending: $17.39 billion Retail Spending Rank: 28/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 36.3% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.36% Giving Rank: 6/50 -- Overall Rank: 15/50 Photo Credit: cliff1066

15. Arizona (tie)
15. Arizona (tie)

Retail Spending: $32.21 billion Retail Spending Rank: 13/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 28.4% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.21% Giving Rank: 21/50 -- Overall Rank: 15/50 Photo Credit: Ken Lund

12. Alabama
12. Alabama

Retail Spending: $24.12 billion Retail Spending Rank: 23/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 25% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.76% Giving Rank: 10/50 -- Overall Rank: 12/50 Photo Credit: southernpixel

11. Minnesota
11. Minnesota

Retail Spending: $25.15 billion Retail Spending Rank: 21/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 32.9% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.34% Giving Rank: 8/50 -- Overall Rank: 11/50 Photo Credit: adamsfelt

10. Colorado
10. Colorado

Retail Spending: $25.31 billion Retail Spending Rank: 20/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 31% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.35% Giving Rank: 8/50 -- Overall Rank: 10/50 Photo Credit: Greg Younger

9. Illinois
9. Illinois

Retail Spending: $57.16 billion Retail Spending Rank: 5/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 27.7% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.24% Giving Rank: 21/50 -- Overall Rank: 9/50 Photo Credit: laffy4k

8. New Jersey (tie)
8. New Jersey (tie)

Retail Spending: $40.35 billion Retail Spending Rank: 11/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 36.6% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.13% Giving Rank: 14/50 -- Overall Rank: 8/50 Photo Credit: Getty Images

8. Michigan (tie)
8. Michigan (tie)

Retail Spending: $46.72 billion Retail Spending Rank: 7/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 26.5% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.33% Giving Rank: 18/50 -- Overall Rank: 8/50 Photo Credit: mrt77

6. Maryland
6. Maryland

Retail Spending: $25.82 billion Retail Spending Rank: 19/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 40.8% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.67% Giving Rank: 1/50 -- Overall Rank: 6/50 Photo Credit: Scaramouche!

5. North Carolina (tie)
5. North Carolina (tie)

Retail Spending: $42.20 billion Retail Spending Rank: 10/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 28.9% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.56% Giving Rank: 7/50 -- Overall Rank: 5/50 Photo Credit: Synthetic Dreamer

5. California (tie)
5. California (tie)

Retail Spending: $180.49 billion Retail Spending Rank: 1/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 29.6% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.25% Giving Rank: 16/50 -- Overall Rank: 5/50 Photo Credit: tensaibuta

3. Virginia
3. Virginia

Retail Spending: $40.67 billion Retail Spending Rank: 11/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 33.1% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.44% Giving Rank: 4/50 -- Overall Rank: 3/50 Photo Credit: Jeffrey Johnson

2. Georgia
2. Georgia

Retail Spending: $43.97 billion Retail Spending Rank: 8/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 29.7% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.85% Giving Rank: 3/50 -- Overall Rank: 2/50 Photo Credit: totalAldo

1. New York
1. New York

Retail Spending: $105.96 billion Retail Spending Rank: 3/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 30.6% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.52% Giving Rank: 5/50 -- Overall Rank: 1/50 Photo Credit: video4net

Tweet alongside us
Tweet alongside us

Greg Emerson is a writer/editor for MainStreet. You can reach him by e-mail at greg.emerson@thestreet.com, or follow him on Twitter at @emersongreg. And if you haven't already, now is a great time to follow MainStreet itself on Twitter. You'll get all of our most important stories, right as they publish. Follow us @mainstr! For the bottom half of our Santa vs. Scrooge state rankings, check out MainStreet's Scrooge States: The Least Generous in the U.S.! Photo Credit: clevercupcakes

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