The record number of Americans planning to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day could be another sign the economy is greening.
An estimated 122 million Americans plan to celebrate the Irish holiday, said the National Retail Federation in its 2011 St. Patrick’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions survey. More than half of Americans – 52.4 percent – will celebrate, up from 45.2 percent last year and the highest percentage in the survey’s eight-year history. Individuals plan to spend and average of $33.97, up slightly from $33.05 last year but below the 2008 average of $35.04.
Total spending is expected to reach $4.14 billion as celebrants don green clothing, attend parties at homes, bars and restaurants, decorate their homes and offices and make special dinners, said the NRF.
“Consumers will look to St. Patrick’s Day as their first spring related celebration, meaning great things for the economy, retailers and restaurants,” said Matthew Shay, president of the NRF.
The regional big box retailer Meijer alone has sold 50,000 men’s t-shirts, and 22,000 t-shirts and 16,000 pairs of fashion socks for women. The company has seen close to 450,000 pounds of red potatoes – that’s 13 semi-truck loads – roll through the store, said spokesman David Peterson, who’s said his local store has sold out of leprechaun kits. Meijer, which has stores in five Midwestern states, has also sold 25 truck loads of cabbage – 1 million pounds – and 1.4 million pounds of corned beef brisket.
Wearing green has become the most popular way to celebrate the holiday with nearly 102 million Americans – 83 percent – plan to sport St. Patrick’s Day apparel. Thirty-eight million Americans - 31.2 percent – will attend a party at a bar or restaurant, many of which are hosting parties featuring traditional foods and green beverages.
About 41 million (33.9 percent) will make a special dinner; 31 million (25.1 percent) will decorate their homes and offices and 23 million (19.1 percent) will attend a private party.
The survey found that residents of the West Coast are more likely to wear green and that young adults aged 18 to 24 are more likely to attend parties. Adults 25 to 34 years old plan to spend the most, $41.30.
Men are more likely to celebrate than women, and prefer going to bars and restaurants or attending parties. Women who celebrate are more likely to wear green, decorate or make a special dinner.
Young adults aged 18 to 24 are the most likely to celebrate with 78 percent planning to have fun on St. Patrick’s Day. Of these, 89 percent plan to wear green. The chances of celebrate decrease steadily with age with 36.1 percent of Americans 65 and older planning to celebrate.