Americans are expected to spend a record amount of green this St. Patrick’s Day.
The March 17 holiday that originally honored St. Patrick — who introduced Christianity to Ireland in the 5th century — has evolved to embrace Irish food, music and the Emerald Isle’s signature color. And Americans planning to celebrate are expected to drop a collective $6.9 billion this year, according to the National Retail Foundation. That’s $1 billion more than they spent on the holiday last year, and an all-time high since the NRF (the world’s largest retail trade organization) began surveying consumers about their St. Paddy’s Day plans more than a decade ago.
The almost $7 billion figure breaks down to $43.84 per person on average, the NRF reports, although men are expected to spend almost $10 more ($48.71 each on average) than women ($39.15 each on average) — and the fellas are outspending the ladies on alcoholic beverages, which have become another dominant aspect of the holiday, for better or worse.
Women, meanwhile, are outspending the men in every other category, including food, apparel, decorations and greeting cards, the NRF says.
Most St. Paddy’s Day patrons are marking the occasion by wearing green (80%), making a special dinner (31%) and/or decorating their home or office (26%), the NRF reports. But going out and imbibing alcoholic beverages has become a big part of the tradition, too.
Consumer insights company Numerator conducted its own St. Patrick’s Day survey on what Americans are buying for the holiday. It found that more than one in three (36%) plan to toast the date by purchasing alcoholic beverages. Beer is the most popular pick by far, with 70% of revelers who plan to drink alcohol choosing suds. But 34% say they’re buying spirits, and 29% will bag some wine. Plus, St. Patrick’s Day is a big day for Irish beers like Guinness and Smithwick’s, which double their household penetration in March (aka the percentage of total households they reach within a geographical area) compared with the average month, according to Numerator.
What’s more, Gen Z and millennial drinkers are two times more likely to buy hard seltzers for St. Patrick’s Day than consumers overall, Numerator adds.
Check out these festive St. Patrick’s Day facts and figures in this chart:
Restaurant chains and brands are also getting in on the fun, with McDonald’s
bringing back its annual minty green Shamrock Shake, and Cold Stone Creamery scooping Lucky Charms ice cream mixed with the fan-favorite marshmallows from the General Mills
breakfast cereal. And Krispy Kreme customers who wear a green shirt on St. Patrick’s Day will score a free green glazed doughnut.
And, of course, plenty of cities celebrate their Irish populations with St. Patrick’s Day parades. New York City held the world’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 17, 1762 — predating the Declaration of Independence — featuring Irish soldiers who served in the English military. This became an annual event, and it’s now the oldest and largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world, featuring about 150,000 people marching before 2 million spectators. Chicago also boasts an incredible procession — although the Windy City’s parade was held last weekend, as it’s always done on the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day. But Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Savannah, Georgia also stage St. Patrick’s Day parades this week. And 15% of St. Paddy’s Day participants told the NRF they plan on going to a parade.