By Barry Janoff
"There are only two kinds of people in the world: the Irish and those who wish they were." - Anonymous Irish Proverb
March 9, 2017: Saint Patrick's Day (or the Feast of Saint Patrick) is a cultural and religious celebration held annually on March 17, which is traditionally regarded as date of death for Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland.
More recently, wearing green has turned into a big business of spending green.
This year, thanks to a number of situations, more than 139 million Americans consumers in the U.S. are projected to spend a record $5.3 billion to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Among the purchases and spends: beer, food, candy, non-alcoholic beverages, green clothing and accessories, party decorations and travel to and from bars, restaurants or parties, according to a new survey from the National Retail Federation, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics.
People will spend a record average of $37.92 per person, which is up from last year’s $35.37 and also tops the previous record of $36.52 set in 2015.
The projected $5.3 billion total is up dramatically from last year’s $4.4 billion and tops the previous record of $4.8 billion in 2014.
"Now that winter is almost behind us and with St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Friday, we will see more Americans getting together to celebrate with friends and family," Matthew Shay, president and CEO for NRF, said in a statement.
"Retailers should expect a nice boost in sales as consumers purchase apparel, decorations, food and beverages to help make their celebrations special," said Shay.
Although the St. Patrick's Day spend will set a record, it trails other one-day celebrations. By comparison, consumers this year spent $18.2 billion on Valentine’s Day (down from $19.7 billion in 2016); and in 2016 spent $21.4 billion on Mother’s Day, $17.3 billion on Easter and $8.4 billion on Halloween, per NFR studies.
The NRF tracks St. Patrick’s Day spend back to 2007, when it was $3.8 billion. Spending went down in 2008 ($3.6 billion) and 2009 ($3.3 billion).
But it started to slightly rebound in 2010 ($3.4 billion) before taking a significant upward trajectory to $4.1 billion in 2011, $4.5 billion in 2012, $4.7 billion in 2013 and what was, until the 2017 projection, a record $4.8 billion in 2014.
According to the survey, 83% of those celebrating will wear green to show their alliance with Irish pride, 31% plan to make a special dinner and 27% will celebrate at a party or in a bar or restaurant.
In addition, 23% will decorate their homes or offices with an Irish theme, 15% will attend a private party and 15% plan to attend a St. Patrick’s Day parade — with that number going up to 21% in the Northeast (think Boston and New York).
Among the hot items, the NRF's St. Patrick’s Day survey found that 52% of celebrants will purchase food, 41% beverages — among them, McDonald’s is celebrating with limited-edition Shamrock Shakes (in five flavors) — 28% on apparel or accessories, 22% decorations and 14% for candy.
Among all St. Patrick's Day shoppers, 39% will make their purchases in grocery stores, 29% in discount stores, 21% in bars/restaurants and 18% in department stores.
Sports teams also love to get in on the action.
The NBA’s online store has a collection of St. Patrick’s Day green items, from T-shirts, hoodies and socks to blankets and pillow cases, led, of course, by the Boston Celtics. MLB, the NFL and NHL also have an array of items at their respective online shopping destinations.
St. Patrick’s Day is most popular among people 18-24 years old, with 77% celebrating. However, the biggest spenders will be among people ages 25-34, who will have a net average of $46.55 per person.
Just behind them, people ages 35-44 will spend an average of $43.20 per person, people 45-54 an average of $40.30, and 18-24 age range will spend an average $37.37.
Apparently, people allocate less money for St. Patrick’s Day as they hit AARP age. Those spending least on average: people 55-64 ($33.70) and those 65 and older ($27.40).
The overall average among adults 18-plus is $37.90.
According to Pam Goodfellow, principal analyst for Prosper Insights, "St. Patrick’s Day is a time for consumers of all ages to have fun and celebrate all things Irish whether it is attending a parade, cooking an Irish meal, or meeting friends at a bar or restaurant.
"While more Americans are planning to celebrate the shamrock-filled day, expect Millennials to take the lead among the festivities."
The survey was conducted among 7,609 people Feb. 1-8. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.
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