St. Paddy's Day Gets Spending Boost

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — More Americans plan on celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year, a small splurge that will collectively create a nice boost in sales for retailers.

According to a recent survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, 52.4% of Americans will celebrate the Irish holiday, up from 45.2% last year and the most in the survey’s eight-year history.

The NRF estimates that, in total, 122 million Americans will toast to St. Patrick on Thursday and total spending related to the holiday is expected to reach $4.14 billion.

Why are so many consumers going green? The NRF attributes it to the timing of the holiday.

“Eager to shake off the winter blues, consumers will look to St. Patrick’s Day as their first spring related celebration, meaning great things for the economy, retailers and restaurants,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said in a  press release.

It also helps that St. Patrick’s is a relatively cheap holiday. The NRF survey found that the average amount consumers plan on spending this year is $33.97, up from $33.05 they planned on spending in 2010.

Comparatively, additional NRF estimates reveal that the average person spent $116.21 on traditional Valentine’s Day merchandise this year. Total Valentine’s Day spending was estimated to be about $15.7 billion.

Easter Sunday, the next big holiday on the calendar (April 24), netted retailers about $13 billion in 2010, with the average amount spent per person hitting $118.60.

“Inexpensive, fun celebrations surrounding St. Patrick’s Day will make it easy for consumers of all ages to take part in the festivities,” said Phil Rist, an executive vice president at BIGresearch, who co-sponsored the research.

The NRF based its estimates on results garnered from a poll of 8,273 consumers conducted from Feb. 1-8.

The poll found that nearly 83.3% of people (or about 102 million) will wear green for the holiday, and 31.2% (38 million) will attend a party at a bar or restaurant, the highest number in the survey’s history.

Additionally, 33.9% of respondents said they will make a special dinner for the holiday, 25.1% will decorate their home or office and 19.1% will attend a private party.

With numbers like this, retailers who provide themed decorations should feel a bit of the luck of the Irish as well this year.

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