Businesses ready for St. Patty’s

149 million U.S. adults plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and consumers are expected to spend an average of $39.65 per person this year

Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec Ashley Johnson sets up a St. Patrick’s Day display at Party Town & Novelty, 307 Union Ave., on Wednesday. The Irish holiday is important for the party industry, which tends to bring in a lot of revenue from selling wearable items. Popular products include hats, glasses, beads and even kilts, despite being Scottish in origin.

Americans plan to spend a record $5.9 billion to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. That’s the highest level in the survey’s 14-year history, up from last year’s previous record of $5.3 billion.

“With winter hopefully winding down over the next few weeks, consumers are ready to start celebrating spring with St. Patrick’s Day,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “The holiday falls on a Saturday this year, so Americans will have more time to splurge a little as they get together with friends and loved ones for a day of festivities.”

The survey found that more than 149 million U.S. adults plan to celebrate the March 17 Irish holiday, up from last year’s approximate 139 million.

Consumers are expected to spend an average of $39.65 per person, up from last year’s previous record of $37.92. The holiday is most popular among individuals 18-24 years old, with 77 percent celebrating, but those ages 35-44 will be the biggest spenders at an average of $45.76.

According to the survey, 83 percent of those celebrating will wear green, 31 percent plan to make a special dinner and 27 percent will head to a party at a bar or restaurant.

St. Patrick’s Day is important for the party industry, said Jason Yoder, owner and manager of Party Town & Novelty, 307 Union Ave.

“We sell a lot of wearables: hats, glasses and beads and so forth. We also sell a fair amount of kilts, primarily for people who will be going out,” Yoder said. “We’ve been selling stuff since the middle of February.”

St. Patrick’s Day does not provide a huge boost to Blair Candy Co.

“Our sales, as far as green candy and gold coins go, may spike. We receive some orders for green tootsie rolls, and we sell gold chocolate coins. As far as party supplies, there may be an uptick in green napkins, green paper plates and green plastic cups,” said Mike Dandrea, director of sales.

St. Patrick’s Day should be busy at Shan Nicole’s Irish Pub in Hollidaysburg.

“We are planning to open early, but are not sure what time yet. We usually open at 3 p.m. We will start with kegs and eggs and have some different Irish dishes such as Irish stew and shepherd’s pie,” owner Doug Stiffler said. “We just bought this six months ago. We looked at the books and, in the past, St. Patrick’s Day has always been one of the biggest days here. Being on a Saturday should help.”

Molly Maguire’s Irish Pub, 1600 Bell Ave., also expects to be busy on St. Patrick’s Day.

“We will open at 7 a.m. with an Irish breakfast and we will have Irish food all day,” said Anthony Pacifico, who recently took over ownership of the business with his brother Mike. “We also will have bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie and corned beef and cabbage. We will have Irish drinks and Guinness beer.”

Pacifico said he will have Irish music Thursday through the weekend.

Zach’s Sports and Spirits, 5820 Sixth Ave., which Anthony owns with his father Tony, also will feature Irish music throughout the weekend and serve corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day.

The survey found 50 percent will purchase food, 41 percent beverages, 31 percent apparel or accessories, 26 percent decorations and 16 percent candy. Of those making purchases, 38 percent will go to grocery stores,

31 percent to discount stores,

20 percent to department stores and 19 percent to bars or restaurants.

“As shoppers plan their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, we anticipate Giant Eagle customers will have elevated interest in ingredients used in traditional Irish recipes, like corned beef, cabbage and potatoes, as well as our holiday-specific offerings like Irish Soda Bread and themed bakery cookies,” said Dick Roberts, Giant Eagle spokesman.

“We traditionally promote corned beef, cabbage and various themed St. Pat’s cakes in our bakeries,” said Dennis Curtin, Weis Markets spokesman.