Retailers to see blue for St. Patrick’s Day

Spending expected to be lower this year, but KU hoops could improve local sales

March 9, 2008


Steve Gaudreau is confident he's opening his new Irish-themed bar at the perfect moment: Just before a St. Patrick's Day set during the week before Easter, and ensconced in the midst of Kansas University's spring break.

A slow time? No problem.

"I'll still be ironing out the kinks," said Gaudreau, owner of the new Dempsey's Irish Pub, 623 Vt. "But if I open up and get slammed (with customers), I'll still be ready."

He shouldn't have too much reason to worry, at least in relation to previous years, judging by results of a new survey conducted for the National Retail Federation.

Consumers will be expected to spend $3.64 billion on St. Patrick's Day this year, down 3.2 percent from last year, according to the survey conducted by BIGresearch, a consumer research firm that has been conducting such surveys for several years. The phone survey connected with 7,977 consumers, and carries a margin of error of 1 percent.

But don't blame the economy for the slowdown. Tracy Mullin, the federation's president and chief executive officer, attributes much of the anticipated dip to a calendar quirk.

For the first time since 1940, the St. Patrick's Day holiday - set this year for Monday, March 17 - falls during Holy Week, a seven-day period filled with religious observances leading up to Easter Sunday.

"Retailers and restaurants that benefit from the St. Patrick's Day holiday are up against a double whammy of an early Easter and the holiday falling on a Monday," Mullin said. "With the holiday just six days before Easter, many retailers are finding that they don't have enough space on their shelves to promote shamrocks and Easter bunnies at the same time."

In Lawrence, the complications include spring break for KU and the Lawrence school district. Some folks will be traveling to warmer climates, to see family or otherwise entertain themselves elsewhere.

One mitigating factor: Basketball. NCAA Tournament selections come out next Sunday, and all tournament teams start play the following Thursday or Friday.

With KU's Jayhawks expected to command a favorable seed, plenty of fans will be poised to follow their team's efforts from the comfort of a bar stool.

Either way, Gaudreau figures to win. He's owned Quinton's, another downtown drinking-and-dining establishment, for 16 years, and KU fans and St. Patrick's Day revelers always seem to find their way into his place.

St. Patrick's Day always falls during spring break, Gaudreau said. "It's a different clientele. There are a lot more older clients drinking all day long during St. Patrick's Day. I'm not sure where they all come from, but I'm glad I have them."


Tammy Copp-Barta 7 years, 8 months ago

... and we SO need ANOTHER bar downtown ...

Kenny Nall 7 years, 8 months ago

You can't be disappointed anymore when a new bar opens up downtown. Restaurants and bars comprise the majority of the businesses and income downtown. So getting a new bar is just of a reality check more than a letdown. Being an Irish pub, I hope it will be a place that you can watch European soccer matches along with the NCAA tournament.

Marty_McFly 7 years, 8 months ago

FYI: The 623 Vermont address has been a bar for years...

Rick's Place....

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