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How Much Money Do Consumers Spend During Memorial Day?


Memorial Day is an occasion to honor those in the military who lost their lives fighting for our freedom. It is a solemn occasion, yet it's a perfect time to celebrate our liberty bought by their sacrifice. The fact that it's a federal holiday makes it a great excuse to party American style. That means lots of weekend travel, residential cookouts, big beach parties, big shopping, and big price tags. Here is a breakdown of some common expenses Americans incur when celebrating this patriotic holiday.


The three day holiday weekend is the perfect time to hit the road, and many travelers will be getting in their cars, and booking flights to spend three days away from it all. According to FTN News, it is estimated that 2016 travelers will spend upwards of 12 billion dollars, a 1.2 percent uptick in spending from last year, a figure estimated by the US Travel Association. Traveling for fun is trendy again, and whether the travelers spend their funds on airfare, or restaurants, gas and lodging, consumers are making the most of a weekend off.

The LA Times, predicts that 2016 Memorial Day Travel Expected to be Busiest Since 2005.


Although many office and government workers will have the holiday off, retail employees will be waiting on a stampede of retail customers who are looking to score a good bargain. Retail sales will be up this year as well, according to the National Retail Federation. Memorial Day sales, many that start a week before the actual holiday, traditionally lead strong with apparel and home goods drastically slashed; however, sales were down last year. Deal News says that clothing sales will be hot, and consumers can score from 30 to 70 per cent off at many box stores and mall shops. Along with apparel, appliances, mattresses and other items will be offered for a song, if you know where to shop.


Beer is the drink of choice for Memorial Day gatherings, coming in second to Fourth of July for beer consumption, according to Business Wire, US Consumers Show Thirst for Beer on Memorial Day. Beer is cold, portable and more affordable than most other alcoholic beverages, and is a favorite of millennials, and 47% of their consumer spending for alcohol goes for beer, with wine and other spirits not nearly as popular.


Outdoor grilling is in, and in many states who have experienced a long, cold, winter, Memorial Day marks the beginning of cookout season. A cookout can mean anything from burgers and hot dogs, to rib eye steaks and shrimp on the barbie.

The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council says that Memorial Day starts the kick off of hot dog season, with an estimation that seven billion hot dogs being consumed each summer.

The most popular Memorial Day food is the all American hamburger, according to Steven Raichlen's Barbeque Bible, with chicken and steak coming in second and third respectively. This figure was gleaned from the HPBA, (Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association). In 2014 CBS news reported that the price of ground beef was at an all time high average, $3.84 per pound. The good news is that the price has gone down just in time for the 2016 grilling season due to the increase of beef herds, according to a May 27, 2016 article, Beef Prices Down as Summer Grilling Season Heats Up. The price is down about 30 cents per pound from last year. Along with the surplus of cattle, more Americans are going vegetarian, or eating leaner proteins like chicken or fish. Still, as burgers are the most popular item on the holiday grilling menu, consumers who are throwing a neighborhood party will get a break on expenses.

Party Supplies and Decorations

For those who are not hitting the road, it's party time! For the first patriotic holiday of the year, it's time to invest in some American Flags, red, white and blue streamers and USA banners. Some of these items like the streamers or national banners can be reused; however, most consumer just throw the plastic cups and utensils in the recycle bin. recommends two cups per party guest, one for alcoholic beverages and one for soda. Two plates per person, one for sweet and one for savory, plus assorted napkins, forks, knives and spoons which all add up.

For one stop shopping, some retailers like, offer a Memorial Day "American Valor" party pack, that contains just about everything you need to serve up and decorate a party for about 18 guests, including 6 Red, White and Blue Twirly Whirlys for under 50 dollars. You may need to buy two sets if your friends all bring a friend.

Hitting the Beach

Getting to the beach may not be cheap; however, parking can cost a pretty penny as well. According to the Pensacola News Journal beachgoers may have to pay as much as $60 to park for beach access. Although this price is extraordinary, consumers may find higher prices for parking due to increased travel this year. Supply and demand will be the key factor in how much cash will be needed just to park the car. Campsites and other recreational areas will likely cost more to access, due to the increase in holiday guests.


People who move to the south from other areas of the country don't understand that any holiday is a reason to set off rockets. Although backyard fireworks are popular all across the country, southern states take the lead. Perhaps that is because they are illegal in many northern states such as New York, New Jersey, and Delaware. Getting in their practice for Independence Day, pyrotechnic enthusiasts get going early on Memorial Day weekend and keep popping off flares until the wee hours of the morning. Whether you live in a district where fireworks are illegal or not, fireworks are sold at nearly every Walmart and many roadside stands. Mega retailers like Phantom Fireworks,, are having a buy 2 get 1 free Memorial Day Sale.

Holiday backyard fireworks also account for many expensive trips to the emergency room for medical attention.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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