It’s St Patrick’s Day on Friday!

And by pure chance, there happens to be a Big Match scheduled that should boost your sales of the black stuff

Photo: iStock

St Patrick, for those who are not of a Catholic caste of mind, is the patron saint or the island of Ireland. His most famous act was to rid the land of poisonous snakes, which is why of course there are none in the Emerald Isle today.

His life (he was born circa AD385) and sainthood are commemorated each year on 17 March, the day he is accepted to have died – and it constitutes another welcome little celebration, before the spring sunshine really begins, that can help to boost a retailer’s sales. This time, you should really be thinking not of chocs and flowers (that’s Mother’s Day on Sunday) but Guinness stout and Irish whiskey – don’t forget the “e”, which is what distinguishes the name from Scotch.

Recent historical research* has established that St Patrick was not Irish at all, but rather a Brit, captured and enslaved by Irish raiders on the mainland in the lawless final days of the Roman Empire in Britain. Patrick escaped back home, then later returned to Ireland as a missionary to spread Christianity. He ended his days as Bishop of Armagh.

It is said that the origin of the Irish shamrock – the three-leafed clover – comes from St Patrick’s attempt to help his parishioners understand the nature of the Holy Trinity.

These days, of course (the first was in 1903), we have traditional St Patrick’s Day parades, which take place in Ireland – obviously – and especially in traditionally Catholic cities such as Boston in the USA, where the fountains run green on that day and everyone wears a leprechaun’s hat atop a green wig and a ginger stick-on beard.

Things can get a little bit rowdy and Dublin, for example, has instituted a (voluntary) ban on pubs and bars in the centre of the city serving alcohol until 4PM on the day.

Britain does not have quite so much a tradition but the celebrations are growing steadily each year, prompting the opportunity for a sales boost for all things Irish – meaning chiefly Guinness and Jameson!

St Patrick’s Day is also important for independent retailers as a pearl on the necklace of important celebration days that can be strung together – especially in the winter and spring months – to make a chain of extra sales days that can “train” shoppers to look to your store for some fun and uplift.

We have just had Pancake Day and before that Burns Night and Valentine’s. Next up is Mother’s Day: all these are feel-good, revenue-boosting occasions if merchandised correctly. As Ben Blake, Head of Marketing at Treasury Wine Estates tells us, “Retailers must be well-prepared for the coming months as consumers continue to enjoy key celebratory periods such as Mothering Sunday, Easter and Wimbledon. Whether these are being celebrated at home or in public places, retailers must create an offering for all types of consumers.”

This year, the blessings of St Patrick means that his celebrations miraculously coincide with the Six Nations Rugby Championship, and this particular St Patrick’s Day weekend, the nation can have genuine cause to down tools and crack open a can of the dark stuff, because on Saturday England and Ireland meet in the tournament in the Irish capital.

In 2021 The Rugby Football Union (RFU) renewed its partnership with Diageo-owned Guinness for a further four years, until 2025, making Guinness the Official Beer of the Four Home Unions (WRU, SRU, IRFU and the RFU). The brand said it will work closely with the Unions and Six Nations Rugby to ensure fans have epic match day experiences.

“Guinness is strongly associated with the Guinness Six Nations, Women’s Six Nations and partnerships with the Home Unions, and has been for many years,” John Burns, Head of Guinness GB said during last year’s tournament.

“Guinness is a high-quality and trusted beer choice, accounting for 92 per cent of total off-trade stout brand sales, making it a must-stock,” says Lauren Priestley, Head of Category Development Off Trade at Diageo. “Also, sales data has revealed that Guinness accounts for 98 per cent of total stout sales in the four weeks leading up to St. Patrick’s Day.”

* St Patrick Retold: The Legend and History of Ireland’s Patron Saint by Roy Flechner, PUP