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The St. Patrick’s Day Effect

by 
Lila Margalit
 on 
March 27, 2024
The St. Patrick’s Day Effect

St. Patrick’s Day, which falls each year on March 17th, is a day for bar crawls, green makeup, and drinks with friends. Cities like New York and Chicago host major celebrations, drawing big crowds to their downtown areas. And bars and pubs fill up with revelers eager to mark the occasion with a green cocktail or a taste of corned beef and cabbage.

There’s plenty of joy to go around – and towns across the country are getting in on the St. Paddy’s Day action with parades and family-friendly events. What kind of a lift do traditional St. Patrick’s Day destinations like bars and pubs get on the big day? And what other retail categories stand to benefit from the occasion? 

A Lucky Day for Bars and Pubs, of Course

Unsurprisingly, bars and pubs get major boosts on the week of St. Patrick’s Day, as club hoppers and other celebrants converge on their local watering holes for drinks and fun. Chains like The Brass Tap and Bar Louie offer special deals and parties, with everything from green beer to Irish whiskey. And on the week of March 11th, 2024, visits to the two chains were up 15.7% and 21.1%, respectively, compared to an early October baseline – slightly outpacing even the busy Christmas season. 

Pharmacies and Grocery Stores: Hold my Beer

But St. Patrick’s Day isn’t just for bar crawling. And although the festivities are usually associated with major metropolises like New York City and Chicago, cities like Myrtle Beach, SC, San Antonio, TX. Indianapolis, IN, and Savannah, GA also come to life mid-March with parades and parties rivaling those of their bigger counterparts. 

On Saturday, March 16th 2024 at 11:00 A.M., San Antonio, TX kicked off its annual St. Patrick’s Day festivities with the traditional dyeing of the San Antonio River. Throughout the weekend, parades and celebrations drew crowds to the city’s famed River Walk – and while bars and clubs undoubtedly benefited from the excitement, they weren’t the only ones to do so. San Antonio’s Shops at Rivercenter enjoyed its busiest day since 2019, drawing 61.4% more foot traffic on March 16th than on an average Saturday this year. 

Savannah, GA, North Myrtle Beach, SC, and Indianapolis, IN also hosted big St. Patrick’s Day events, bringing foot traffic – and business – to local retailers. For Savannah, March 16th, 2024 marked the 200th anniversary of the city’s famous St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and the town was positively booming. City Market, the iconic shopping corridor located in the heart of Savannah’s Historic District, was the most crowded it’s been since at least January 2023, with March 17th 2023 (the day of last year’s parade) coming in a close second. 

Malls and shopping districts weren’t the only places to get significant leprechaun-inspired visit bumps. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and eateries located in proximity to the festivities also reaped the benefits of the hubbub, as parade-goers likely dropped in to snag some essentials or fuel up for the long day.

Leprechauns Have to Sleep Somewhere… Hotels Get a Boost

And it isn’t just locals turning out for all these events. A look at hotel foot traffic patterns nationwide shows that the week of St. Patrick’s Day kicks off the hospitality industry’s spring season – with cities hosting special events seeing even more significant visit spikes. During the week of March 11th, 2024, hotel venues in the analyzed cities drew many more visits than usual, showcasing the power of St. Paddy’s Day to supercharge the tourism sector.  

Plenty of Green to Go Around

St. Patrick’s Day is about a lot more than bars and pubs. And in recent years, the popular green-themed holiday has emerged as an important driver of tourism and retail activity across the U.S.

What other local celebrations are fueling foot traffic spikes in cities nationwide? Does your city know the impact of location celebrations on local businesses? Are local businesses prepared for the increase in foot traffic and revenue opportunities during local celebrations?

Follow Placer.ai’s data-driven civic and retail analyses to find out. 

This blog includes data from Placer.ai Data Version 2.0, which implements improvements to our extrapolation capabilities, adds short visit monitoring, and enhances visit detection.

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