St Patrick’s Day is the highest grossing day of the year for U.S. bars and restaurants

According to Nielsen CGA, St. Patricks Day is the highest grossing day of the year for U.S. bars and restaurants.  In 2018, St Patrick’s Day beer sales were up +174% and spirits sales up +153% versus the average day in the year. 

According to Nielsen CGA, St. Patricks Day is the highest grossing day of the year for U.S. bars and restaurants.  In 2018, St Patrick’s Day beer sales were up +174% and spirits sales up +153% versus the average day in the year.

Matt Crompton, Client Solutions Director at Nielsen CGA, said, “Given that St. Patrick’s Day will again fall on a weekend, on premise retailers will be hoping for similar footfall and spend. In 2018, Saturday 17th delivered the greatest uplifts with average value sales for Beer +36% vs the previous Saturday and Stout increased a massive +355%, Despite being on a Sunday this year, the industry has every right to be optimistic that celebrations will stretch across the whole weekend. We surveyed 15,000 on premise visitors through our On Premise User Survey and a huge one-third of all US consumers stated that they visit the on premise on St. Patrick’s Day – with the day falling only behind New Year’s Eve, Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day.”

That said, while the popularity of St. Patrick’s Day may not come as a surprise,  Nielsen CGA has uncovered new insights that bring to light a hotbed of opportunities for U.S On-Premise establishments.

Boston and Chicago see the biggest uplift in sales from St. Patrick’s Day

Chicago & Boston were the major winners in 2018 on this day with the Windy City seeing beer uplifts of +221% vs 36% Total US.  From a variety perspective, Stout performed well in both of these cities, with Chicago seeing an uplift of +688% and Boston seeing a lift of +355% vs the previous week.

There are stark differences across cities in the US.  The top 5 major Designated Market Areas (DMAs) for sales on St. Patrick’s Day are Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, Los Angeles and New York.  In contrast, sales are much lower in Dallas, San Francisco, Miami, Houston and Tampa with velocity actually down versus the previous week in Dallas and Tampa.

Focusing on daypart performance during St. Patrick’s day weekend (2018), Brunch (9am-11am) showed the strongest growth for Beer vs. the previous weekend, particularly on St. Patrick’s Day itself where Brunch showed a huge uplift of +1465% making it a key area to focus on as consumers visit the On-Premise much earlier in the day.

Happy Hour still proves the most valuable daypart for beer across St Patricks Day weekend. Although consumers visit the On-Premise earlier on St Patricks Day, there was still a +122% uplift from the mid-afternoon daypart (3pm-5pm) and +12% uplift vs the previous Saturday showing consumers still wait for this part of the day to take advantage of the deals offered.

During St. Patrick’s Day (2018), beer value increased by +20% vs the previous weekend with pubs and bars saw an uplift of +57% vs dining locations at +7%. Unsurprisingly, Stout value rose significantly with sales +141% versus the previous weekend. Other subsegments that also perform strongly on St. Patrick’s Day are Domestic Premium which showed +80% growth, Import +52% and Cider +46%. Coupled with the growth of Irish Beer on St Patrick’s Day, we continue to see growth opportunities in  Irish Whiskey.  In fact,  it is the fastest growing Whiskey type in the On-Premise, worth almost $2.1 billion in the last 52 weeks with value growing at 5.9% vs YA. In 2018, March was the strongest month for Irish Whiskey with value sales of $190 million, +6% vs YA and +22% higher than the previous 4-week period.

Crompton added: “Having a well-stocked event calendar can be a great driver of footfall into bars and restaurants. In an age where experience is key, many consumers need a good excuse to visit the trade and celebrations like St.Patrick’s Day can often be just that. Our analysis of 2018 St.Patrick’s Day shows that it isn’t just beer that wins, other categories do too. This analysis shows the importance of activating at the right time of day during big calendar events such as this. With the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships and conclusion of the Six Nations Rugby tournament, signs are promising for another bumper day for all bars which embrace their inner Irish!”

This analysis comes from Nielsen and CGA, through our Nielsen CGA joint venture based in the United States. Nielsen CGA can analyze brands and categories during a specific event such as important activations, key sponsorships and other initiatives such as new launches, sampling, etc.  Contact to learn how.

OPUS is an in-depth survey of 15,000 On-Premise consumers twice a year. A nationally representative census based on age and gender by state. Results from March 2018 and Fall 2018.

CLIP is a first of its kind data set providing transaction-level insights around sales performance across the US On-Premise.

Data used for this release, daily from 01/01/2018 to 12/31/2018.

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