St. Patrick’s Day celebrations show foot traffic in restaurants and bars returning to pre-COVID levels in key US cities

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Blis research shows that in the US, some areas are beginning to show signs of returned mobility, with St. Patrick’s Day revellers returning to celebrate the holiday. The findings show that three-quarters (76%) of 2020 partiers were back out celebrating. 

To look at how 2021’s gatherings compared to last year, Blis gathered insights from the 17th of March and compared year on year foot traffic across seven designated market areas: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. 

Last year, one in 20 (4.75%) people in each of the seven DMAs analyzed were clocked visiting a bar or restaurant on St Patrick’s Day. Nationally, it was closer to one in 50 (1.91%). This year, 3.6% of people in the seven DMAs were seen in bars on the 17th, compared to 1.2% nationally.

These small signs of activity may signal people gradually increasing their movements after a year of quarantine. Boston in particular, stands out, seeing an uplift of 32% in bar visitors. New York is also showing signs of increased mobility; it’s only marginally down on 2020’s figures with 14%. While the west coast is lagging behind slightly, data from the DMA’s prove that key areas are also gradually picking up, little-by-little. 

The results indicate that a cohort of early adopters (those less risk-averse) are returning to social scenes. Alex Wright, Head of Insights at Blis says: “Unsurprisingly, foot traffic in bars and restaurants hasn’t simply exploded back to where it was a year ago, but the direction of travel is positive. If brands are holding out for things to get back to 100% they could be waiting a while, as a degree of caution persists – and missing out on the higher frequency of purchase from these early-movers already active in the market.” 

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