Stores luck out on St. Patrick’s Day

Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec / Beth McCahren (left) and Angie Davies, both of Hollidaysburg, shop for St. Patrick’s Day items at Party Town & Novelty.

Americans plan to spend a record $6.1 billion to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year, according to the annual survey conducted by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

Consumers plan to spend $40 on average for St. Patrick’s Day this year, just a fraction of the $162 they planned to spend on Valentine’s Day last month. Unlike some other holidays that have seen consumer spending grow, the average amount consumers spend has stayed consistent even as the economy recovered from the Great Recession, according to the NRF.

On the surface, the percentage of consumers who plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day each year appears stable, though topline numbers disguise the holiday’s surge in popularity among certain consumer groups. A decade ago, roughly half of consumers under the age of 35 planned to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day; today it has grown to over 70 percent, according to the survey.

While older generations might turn to more traditional St. Patrick’s Day celebrations like preparing a dinner of corned beef and cabbage or attending a parade, younger consumers wholeheartedly embrace the social aspects of the holiday, planning to spend an evening at a bar or restaurant or making party plans with friends, the survey indicates.

St. Patrick’s Day does provide a shot in the arm to some local businesses.

“It is the biggest day of the year for us business-wise,” said Doug Stiffler, owner of Shan Nicole’s Irish Pub in Hollidaysburg. “We are one of the few Irish pubs in the area. We expect a lot of people to stop in to celebrate in the festivities. We will have similar Irish dishes as last year such as Shepherd’s Pie and Guinness Stew — traditional Irish dishes,”

Anthony Pacifico is co-owner of Molly Maguire’s Irish Pub, 1600 Bell Ave. while his father Tony owns Zach’s Sports and Spirits, 5820 Sixth Ave.

“It is very important to both places, it is a busy day, a fun day. Zach’s has a nice St. Patrick’s day following, Molly’s is very popular too.” Anthony Pacifico said. “At Molly’s we will start the day off with an Irish breakfast and will also have Shepherd’s Pie and corned beef and cabbage. We will have corned beef and cabbage at Zach’s but Zach’s is more about the green beer.”

St. Patrick’s Day is also important to Party Town & Novelty, 307 Union Ave.

“It is one of the larger holidays in the spring. We sell a lot of wearables, shot glasses, hats, eye glasses and things like that,” owner Jason Yoder said.

St. Patrick’s Day is not a major holiday for Blair Candy Co., Altoona.

“Many candy companies do not make anything specific for St. Patrick’s Day. We may see a slight run on green colored candy or gold wrapped coins,” Mike Dandrea, director of sales, said.

“In March we sell more green colored candy than any other month but it is not a big bonus or influx,”he added.