Food retailers will see green on St. Patrick's Day

Dive Brief:

  • St. Patrick's Day, which honors the patron saint of Ireland and is more widely celebrated than any other national festival, is expected to generate some $5.3 billion in sales in the U.S. this year, according to a National Retail Federation report on the holiday, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics and written up in Mass Market Retailers. That's up from $4.48 billion in 2016.

  • According to the survey, 31% of people plan to make a special dinner for the holiday. It shows 52% of celebrants will purchase food, 41% will get beverages and 14% will buy candy. Almost four of every ten people who are going to spend money will go to grocery stores.

  • NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay told Mass Market Retailers that because the annual commemoration of all things Irish falls on a Friday, there's likely to be more parties and more spending.

Dive Insight:

A Food Lion display in Central Virginia was, five days before the biggest American celebration of Irish heritage, piled high with cabbages. Restaurants in New Orleans, which has a richer-than-most-know Irish heritage of its own, were advertising St. Paddy's Day specials and events more than a week before the big day. 

Publix is not just offering a variety of St. Patrick's Day specials. They're introduced in its weekly as a goofy limerick (“For recipes rich and hearty; and crafts if you're feeling arty; Scroll down it's all here; Now give a loud cheer; and plan your; St. Patrick's Day Party”) to get shoppers in the mood.

Could retailers do more to promote a basically silly excuse for celebrating a culture? Odds are, they'd be hard pressed to do so – short of parading dancing leprechauns around their parking lots.

While the St. Patrick's Day spending total won't get past that of Halloween ($5 billion, not counting the candy or booze the adults enjoy), Easter ($14 billion, propelled by women's clothing purchases), or Valentine's Day ($15 billion), it's still significant for a day that is considered a cultural party celebration.

Even if there aren't many shoppers or employees who share an Irish heritage, retailers can find the leprechaun's pot of gold this week if they put an Irish smile on their faces and sit down to a plate of corned beef and cabbage with a pint of an Irish brew. If a store promotes those items well it will reap ongoing rewards from new customers.

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Filed Under: Grocery Marketing
Top image credit: jill111