March 12, 2019

St. Patrick’s Day: Is it really as huge for bars and lounges as you might expect?

It would be easy to assume that St. Patrick’s day would be the top-revenue day for every bar and lounge in America—and in some cases it’s true.

However, you might be surprised at some of Womply’s data.

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As a technology and data partner to more than 150,000 small businesses in every corner of America, Womply has a unique vantage point on local revenue trends. Womply’s 2018 data shows that St. Paddy’s was the top revenue-generating day of the year for bars and lounges in only 14 states: California, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas.

Of course, this means St. Patrick’s day is NOT the top day of the year in 36 states—the vast majority—which some may find surprising.

State-level data for St. Patrick’s Day: lowest and highest increases in average daily revenue

Though St. Paddy’s ranked as the top revenue day of the year for bars and lounges in only 14 states, it was still among the top five in 17 states and top ten in four more. In every state, it was a bigger than the average day, so it’s certainly no slouch.

The states whose bars and lounges saw the smallest increase in revenue compared to their average day are Alaska (11% higher than average), Hawaii (63%), Louisiana (56%), Montana (66%), North Dakota (15%), Oregon (59%), Utah (48%), Washington (50%), and Wyoming (37%).

On St. Paddy’s, most states’ bars and lounges saw at least double the revenue of their average day. In fact, six lucky states brought in nearly triple their average daily revenue, including Georgia (186% more revenue than average), Kentucky (196%), Mississippi (169%), Nebraska (175%), and Ohio (167%). But the far-and-away winner, as far as change in daily revenue compared to average, was North Carolina with a whopping 244% increase. Begorrah!

Do people actually spend more on St. Patrick’s Day?

Actually, no. The general trend is toward a much higher number of transactions on St. Patrick’s Day than average, but with with a significant reduction in ticket size.

So people generally spend less per person on the holiday (we speculate this is due to promotional specials or people purchasing pitchers of beer rather than more expensive mixed drinks), but the dramatic increase in ticket volume for the top performing states more than makes up for it.

North Dakota, Hawaii, and Alaska: smallest increase in average daily transactions

As a counterpoint, we took a look at the three states where St. Paddy’s was not only NOT a top 10 revenue day of the year for bars and lounges, but where the increase in the number of transactions compared to the average day was around 5% or less.

In Alaska, St. Patrick’s Day ranked as the 131st-highest revenue day of the year for 2018, while in Hawaii it ranked 24th and North Dakota it was 87th.

Bucking the national trend, Alaska and Hawaii are examples of the few states that show a significant increase in average ticket size for St. Paddy’s (32% and 16% larger, respectively). North Dakota follows the national trend of greater number of transactions (though only 4.87% more than their average day), but a smaller ticket size per transaction.

In Alaska, the number-one month overall is August, showing that Alaska’s volume of traffic to bars and lounges is heavily seasonal, with summer being the highest-revenue period, as one might expect.

North Dakota’s top day of 2018 was Easter Sunday, with Thanksgiving Day, Mother’s Day, and Christmas Day rounding out the field of the year’s best-performing days. We might infer residents of The Peace Garden State have a penchant for celebrating big holidays at the local bar.

The Saturday factor and 2019 St. Patrick’s Day expectations

There’s also the factor of the “perfect storm” when St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday in a given year (which is typically the top revenue day of the week for bars and lounges anyway). In 2018 this was the case, so that St. Paddy’s Saturday got a pretty good bump.

When St. Patrick’s day falls on, say, a Tuesday, we often see that St. Patrick’s Day itself doesn’t perform as well as it does when it falls on a weekend day. But, the Saturday closest (before or after) to a midweek St. Paddy’s usually gets a significant revenue lift compared to the typical Saturday. So all is not lost.

In 2017, the St. Patrick’s holiday fell on a Friday, and perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the next day still outperformed it.

In 2019, St. Patrick’s Day is on a Sunday, which may cause some anomalies, but we would expect to see Saturday the 16th of March take up any slack that a “slower Sunday” would leave.

Other top-performing days of the year for 2018

Some other #1-days-of-the-year for bars and lounges range from Easter Sunday (North Dakota, as noted above) to December 23 (Connecticut) to Cinco De Mayo (Iowa) to November 24 (which was the Saturday following Thanksgiving doing double duty as Small Business Saturday) in Alabama and Massachusetts.

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