3 charts that explain why consumers are feeling lucky this St. Patrick’s Day

VP, Industry and Consumer Insights
February 27, 2020

Whether they are Irish or just Irish enough, consumers across the country are getting ready to don something green, pour a glass of Guinness and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. This year more than half of adults (56%) plan to celebrate and total spending is expected to reach a record $6.16 billion, according to the annual survey from NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics. To understand what drives interest in this holiday, NRF took a closer look at the data and found the answers to three common questions about what St. Patrick’s Day means for both retailers and consumers alike.

Does it matter that St. Patrick’s Day is on a Tuesday this year?

Historically, data shows that consumers are slightly more likely to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day if it falls on a weekend. However, it’s not as big a difference as you might think: In 2018, when St. Patrick’s Day landed on a Saturday, a record 60 percent of consumers expected to commemorate the day. That’s just incrementally higher than the 56 percent who plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year, when it occurs in the middle of the week. This holds even when looking at younger consumers between the ages of 18 and 34.

It is true that the lowest participation in the holiday occurred in 2009 when St. Patrick’s Day also fell on a Tuesday. However, that was most likely due to the overall impacts of the Great Recession rather than the day of the week. Since 2011, as the economy has recovered, St. Patrick’s Day consistently attracts more than half of consumers.  

How do people celebrate?

Wearing green is by far the most popular — and easiest — way for consumers to show their Irish spirit. But the social aspects of the holiday also stand out, with more than a quarter saying they plan to make a special dinner or attend a party. How consumers celebrate can also vary depending on where they live. For instance, those in the Northeast are more than twice as likely to say they will attend a parade as those in the West.

Where are they shopping?

Given that the most popular items on shoppers’ lists are food and beverages, it’s not surprising that nearly half (49%) say they will head to grocery stores for their St. Patrick’s day items; just 11 percent say they plan to do their St Patrick’s day shopping online. That doesn’t mean digital won’t influence their purchases — a recent study from IBM found that the percent of consumers who use buy online, pick up in store to purchase food and beverages has grown from just 9 percent in 2014 to 61 percent in 2019.

“We know today’s consumer enthusiastically embraces multichannel shopping options,” said Phil Rist, Prosper executive vice president of strategy. “St. Patrick’s Day is no different. We can expect to see those celebrating browsing for Irish-inspired goodies on their mobile devices and buying items ahead of time to pick up in store.”  

To explore more data, visit our St. Patrick’s Day page.

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