Irish retailers to benefit from St Patrick’s Day bank holiday traffic boost

When will retailers benefit from St Patrick’s Day?

It’s well documented that the Irish love a party. National revelries reach epic proportions on St Patrick’s Day, which this year on falls on Saturday 17th March. It’s also the last day of the Six Nations 2018 rugby championship, in which Ireland has secured victory. With a bank holiday on Monday 19th March, it’s likely that retailers in the Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland, will enjoy a major sales opportunity over the long weekend. So when exactly will stores see the most traffic uplift?

 Shamrocks and leprechauns

St Patrick’s Day is an internationally-recognised celebration of Irish culture, remembering St Patrick, one of Ireland’s patron saints, who ministered Christianity in Ireland during the fifth century.  In modern times there are green-themed street parades and parties around Ireland, with participants typically dressed in green, leprechaun hats and shamrock motifs. Pubs and bars are the big traffic winners of course, but there is a significant knock-on benefit to retail.

When St Patricks Day last fell on a weekend — in 2012 and 2013 — the bank holiday took place on the following Monday, as is the case this year. Interestingly, Irish store traffic was up against the average Monday in both years (+11% in 2012, and +10% in 2013), ShopperTrak data confirms. With people most likely to have celebrated St Patrick’s Day at the weekend, the uplift in traffic could have been due to the leisure time afforded by the bank holiday, giving people the chance to enjoy a shopping trip on their day off.

Traffic winners in the days before St Patrick’s

ShopperTrak historic trend data shows that often St Patrick’s Day itself does not drive additional traffic to stores – as many people are partying rather than shopping. However for the past three years, the day prior to St Patrick’s Day has experienced an uplift in traffic, when compared to the average, as people stock up on party food and drink, and outfits for the big day. We can therefore surmise that Friday 16th March will see a retail traffic boost this year. Typically supermarkets, off licences, clothing stores and outlets specialising in party goods and fancy dress generate St Patrick’s Day-related sales.

Thanks to the famously fun festivities taking place across the country, visitor numbers to Ireland get a boost in the run-up to the event too. Certified Public Accountants Ireland estimates that 140,000 people visit Ireland on St Patrick’s Day from overseas, with many heading to Dublin, and also Downpatrick in Northern Ireland, where St Patrick was buried.

By using traffic data it’s possible for retailers to know when peaks will come, and what types of products and promotions will generate sales as stores get busy. Our insights suggest that Irish shoppers will be looking for inspirational ways to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in the run-up to the event, so having stores well stocked with eye-catching ranges, and optimum levels of staff on hand to advise and serve, will be essential.

Ireland’s outlook for 2018 is rosy

March is a busy month for Irish retailers, with Mother’s Day (11th March),  St Patricks Day bank holiday (19th March) and Good Friday (30th March) all providing opportunities to maximise sales.

Shoppers should be in the mood to spend up as they let their hair down, because consumer confidence is high, and the Irish economy is in robust shape. Bank of Ireland has predicted that the Irish economy is projected to grow by 3.8% in 2018, building on an excellent growth economy in 2017.

Retail sales in Ireland rose by 4.3% last year, and household confidence has been on a broad upward trajectory in recent months, with the Bank of Ireland Consumer Pulse posting a two year high in January this year.

However Irish retailers need to plan meticulously if they are to win every sale today, and build customer loyalty for tomorrow. The brightest retail groups will be harnessing traffic data insights to fully understand shopper behaviour, to react to local customs and needs, and to ensure their stores are operationally primed to maximise conversions. When it comes to retail strategy, the luck of the Irish simply isn’t enough!

Find our latest European Shopper Trends Report here.

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