Fewer Americans plan to celebrate Independence Day this year, according to the NRF’s annual Independence Day survey, which was conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. Still, participation is expected to be the second highest in the survey’s history, at 216 million this year, down 1% from last year’s 219 million. Total spending on food for the holiday is estimated to reach $6.9 billion, down 3% from $7.1 billion in 2017.
The expected reduction in participation and related fall in total spending may be attributable to the holiday falling midweek (July 4 falls on a Wednesday this year). According to the NRF’s survey, the average American household will spend $75.35 on food for the holiday this year, slightly more than last year’s average of $73.42.
The Fourth of July is a busy time for travel and vacations, and an estimated 13% of Americans, or 31 million people, plan to head out of town for the holiday. Gas prices are higher this year, and 25% of people surveyed said that gas prices would impact their travel plans. That figure is up from 18% last year, but lower than the peak of 59% in 2008, when gas prices were much higher. Among those surveyed, 62% plan to attend cookouts, 43% plan to attend fireworks displays and 12% plan to go to a parade.
Patriotic merchandise for the July 4th holiday has declined in popularity since last year. In 2017, 65% of survey respondents said that they owned a flag; this fell to 62% in 2018. Additionally, the percentage of respondents who said that they own patriotic apparel fell from 53% in 2017 to 51% in 2018, and those who said that they own decorations fell from 40% to 38%.
The table below highlights consumer holiday spending trends, and shows that July 4th spending ranks just behind Halloween spending. About 27% of Americans plan to purchase additional patriotic merchandise this year. Young adults account for much of that group: the percentage of consumers planning to buy more merchandise jumps to 44% when considering consumers ages 18–24 only.
Though the number of consumers planning to celebrate Independence Day this year may be down because the holiday falls midweek, it still presents retailers with a great opportunity to boost sales. The average household plans to spend more than last year, and young adults make up a large part of the consumer base looking to make July 4th purchases.