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St. Patrick's On Saturday: A Mixed Blessing

Posted on 12-03-2012.


With St. Patrick’s Day looming, retailers, restaurants and bartenders all over the country are thinking green, and hoping that the holiday landing on a Saturday this year will boost bucks.

A survey just released by the National Retail Federation predicts that 54.4% of Americans plan to celebrate the traditionally Irish holiday this year, the highest in the nine years the NRF has been conducting the research. On average, the NRF forecasts that each of these leprechauns will spend $35, for a total of $4.6 billion. 

Eight out of ten say they will wear green, 28.2% plan to go to a party at a bar or restaurant, 19.1% plan to go to a private party, 23.8% will decorate their home or office, and 32.3% will make a special dinner to celebrate.

But for restaurants, having the holiday fall on a weekend may be a bit of a bummer. “Weekends are typically busier than weekdays for restaurants, so it's actually better for the restaurant operator when holidays fall on a slower day of the week, like Monday or Tuesday, for a traffic boost,” says a spokesperson for the National Restaurant Association.

Others are betting that the weekend timing will extend festivities, and mean bigger spending all around. In Philadelphia, for example, where the Irish are the second-largest ethnic group, “every bar, restaurant, and practically every street corner is packed, even if St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Tuesday,” says Denise Foley, editor of “Having it fall on a Saturday is going to be like Black Friday after Thanksgiving for local merchants and bar/restaurant owners. It’s a day when anyone selling anything Irish is going to make their profit for the year. It's all good.”

Some cities are worried that crowd control will be a greater issue than usual. Organizers in Hoboken, N.J. actually cancelled its parade after they were told it would have to take place on a weekday to manage the mayhem. (The city is still delaying bar openings, bringing in extra cops, and adding 50% more portable toilets than in years past.)

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