Perhaps it dims the festive mood on the Fourth of July a bit when people know they’ll have to go to work the next day. So when the holiday falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday, many companies offer their employees a four-day weekend (or people arrange to take one using their vacation days). But when Independence Day falls on a Wednesday, as it does this year, odds are, for most of us, it’ll be a sort of island — a day off all on its own.
Despite that, more than 216 million Americans (87%) expect to celebrate the Fourth of July, and they will spend $6.9 billion on the food involved alone, according to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey conducted by Prosper Insight & Analytics. That’s down from $7.1 billion last year, but it’s still the second-highest amount in the 16-year history of the survey.
“With the holiday falling in the middle of the week, a few less Americans will be free to celebrate and that affects spending totals,” NRF CEO Matthew Shay said in a press release. “But those who are celebrating by attending or hosting a cookout or picnic, are actually spending more, and retailers will be ready with red-white-and-blue decorations, apparel, and food.”
Grilling up some freedom
The number of people who’ll be celebrating has only fallen slightly from 219 million in 2017 to this year’s expected 216 million. More than half — 62%, or 153 million people — expect to have a cookout or picnic. The average person’s spending for the food for those celebrations is forecast to come in at a record $75.53, topping last year’s record of $73.42.
Of course, the Fourth of July is known for community celebrations and fireworks, and 106 million people plan to take part in one of those types of events; 30 million also expect to watch a parade. That’s slightly less than the 31 million who intend to travel out of town, a number that’s down from 2017’s 33 million — likely due to a combination of higher gas prices and the holiday falling mid-week.
“Over a quarter of Americans plan to buy more patriotic decorations for the holiday this year,” Prosper Insights Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “We find young people really embrace this holiday, which explains why young people are significantly more likely to buy more patriotic-themed decorations or apparel for the holiday than any other age group.”
Since many of us will have to go to work on Thursday, this may be a good Fourth of July to practice a bit of restraint. Nobody wants to go to the office the morning after having had one (or more) too many adult beverages.
But to avoid longer-term headaches, practice similar restraint when it comes to spending. Set a budget, and stick to it. And if your checking account balance suggests that grilling hot dogs and burgers makes more sense than grilling steaks, then pick a cookout menu that keeps you independent from holiday-related credit card debt. After all, there will be plenty more barbecues to shop for this summer.
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