The Supply Chain Behind St. Patrick’s Day

March 17, 2017

The annual celebration of all things Irish is with us once again, but did you ever stop to think just how much planning goes into St. Pat’s? As well as providing a great reason to wear green, the supply chain behind St. Patrick’s Day is big business for retailers, tourism, and many other sectors.

Before you head out into the evening to drink a pint of the black stuff and dye your local waterway green, consider the various economic influences of St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S. and what it means for American businesses.

supply chain st patricks day

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The National Retail Federation releases annual metrics on many holiday events and St. Pat’s is no exception. Last year’s St. Patrick’s Day Retail Survey revealed $4.4 billion in planned consumer spending, which the organization expects will surge past $5 billion and set a record in 2017.

The holiday is adored by retailers almost as much as consumers. It provides a fun and reliable shopping event in March, which attracts a broad range of buyers and keeps them engaged heading into spring sales events.

The survey aims to define consumer behavior and predict shopping trends related to St. Patrick’s Day. For retailers, these are the headline figures:

  • Almost half of the country – some 139 million Americans – plan to celebrate the holiday in some way. Whether that’s buying gifts and decorations, stocking up on Irish snacks and drinks, or even just writing a quick card, that’s a huge section of customers who wouldn’t otherwise be opening their wallets.
  • More than 80% of respondents plan to wear green today, while almost one-quarter will decorate their home or office. As a one-stop shop for both novelty clothing and holiday nick-nacks, big box retailers are in prime position to boost sales in March thanks to St. Pat!
  • The highest spending is projected in the 25-34 age group, giving retailers a perfect opportunity to attract millennials to their brand.
  • The holiday spans both home and office, with a combined 38.5% of those surveyed preparing for festivities at work or a private party.

St Patrick's Day supplies

Planning for St. Patrick’s DAY

The holiday isn’t limited to restaurants and retail, either. All kinds of cargo and products must be moved around the country to make the festivities happen.

  • To supply the surge in Guinness drinkers on St. Patrick’s Day, the equivalent of more than 100,000 barrels of the black stuff has to reach the pubs, clubs, and restaurants in which it’s served.
  • To turn the famous Chicago River green, 45 pounds of vegetable-based dye is transported into the city.
  • Cabbage shipments spike as we move towards March, with 70% of all shipments happening this week!
  • The reason all this happens? The fact that 4.5 million Irish immigrants made their way to the U.S. over a period leading up to 1930. Many of them ended up in Boston, MA, where the annual parade attracts almost one million people.
  • In New York City, that number is closer to two million, with all of the transportation and logistics that entails. A section of 5th Avenue that stretches from 44th to 80th Street will see approximately 150,000 parade participants march on by.

Finally, around 13 million pints of Guinness will be poured today, or eight million more than on a regular day of the year.

So raise a glass to the Emerald Isle and remind your fellow revelers that your celebrations help to support the economy… sláinte!