St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t receive much acclaim in the context of commerce, but there are still valuable cultural learnings we can extract from the gloriously green holiday. It’s no surprise that St. Patrick’s Day has made numerous shifts throughout the life cycle of the pandemic. As of recent we have seen fluctuations in food, beverage, decorations, on premise, and many other industries. So, let’s discuss how the celebration of the holiday has changed over time and what that means for the commerce space for the coming year.
The shift in St. Patrick’s Day behavior didn’t change much from 2019 to 2020, since March was the time “shelter in place” orders started popping up across the U.S. So, 2021 was the year of deviation. According to The National Retail Federation, “making a special dinner” and “decorating the home or office” increased 6 and 8 percentage points, respectively. On the other hand, “Attend a party at a bar/restaurant” and “attend a parade” declined 17 and 9 percentage points, respectively. These changes were due to a lack of public gatherings and venues unavailable to patron. However, a year into the pandemic, people were still looking for ways to keep the St. Patrick’s Day spirit and fun alive even if they were celebrating at a different venue.
Now that we have landed in 2022, we’re seeing another shift. Larger cities like New York and Dallas reignited their St. Patrick’s Day parades for the first time since 2019. As we stepped out into our cities over the last week, we have seen packed Irish pubs and the sea of green that the week of March 17 brings to us all. While celebrating and decorating at home decreased this year, they are still above their 2019 threshold. At the same time, the purchase of food and beverage in-store is still riding the emerald wave. While attending a party at a restaurant or bar and attending a parade are making rebounds, they have still not regained the participation numbers they held in 2019. All these pieces have time to redevelop in the coming years, but we believe these figures are very telling for the future of retail and how holidays will continue to be celebrated.
Like many changes brought about by the pandemic, the celebration of holidays has potentially been altered forever. People recognize that they don’t have to choose between going out or staying in. They can have a more intimate bash at home one night and enjoy their local watering hole another. So, what does this mean for commerce? We must start looking at holidays that we might have passed by in previous years and recognize the viability of at-home celebrations. Shoppers are seeking out plates, decorations, food and beverage more than ever before. All holidays large and small have growing lead times. Planning is starting earlier, and the parties are running later. Soon, it will be imperative that companies reassess whether their products have a tie-in to more celebrations than the holidays, Halloween, Easter and New Year’s. As for this year, we simply raise a glass and enjoy the latest exploration of celebration.
Contributed By: Aaron Miller, Associate Director, Insight & Strategy
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