Here’s What Consumers Are Buying This Memorial Day

75% of Americans are celebrating the holiday, and nearly all plan to make Memorial Day purchases.

May 24, 2023

CHICAGO—Three-quarters of Americans will celebrate Memorial Day, with all celebration plans seeing increases compared to Memorial Day 2022, and 92% of celebrators planning to make purchases, according to a survey by Numerator.

The top celebration plans include grilling/barbecuing (59% of celebrators), followed by attending or hosting a party (43%) and cooking/baking (23%). Compared to Memorial Day 2022, all celebration plans saw an increase in 2023, including recreational activities (+10 percentage points), attending or hosting parties (+9 points), attending public celebrations (+8 points) and watching fireworks (+6 points).

The survey found that nearly everyone plans to make Memorial Day purchases. Food tops the shopping list (83% plan to purchase), followed by alcoholic beverages (46%), non-alcoholic beverages (35%), party supplies (16%) and decorations (11%).

Beer is the top alcohol choice, but spirits and hard seltzers saw a jump in popularity. Among those planning to buy alcohol, the top choice is beer (70%), followed by wine (43%), hard seltzers (30%) and spirits (30%). Compared to 2022, more consumers say they are planning to purchase spirits (+10 percentage points) and hard seltzers (+2 points) this year.

However, more than three-quarters of consumers expect rising prices to impact their Memorial Day spending. Thirty-four percent say they expect a slight impact from inflation, while 26% expect a moderate impact, and 16% expect a significant impact.

Eight in 10 consumers (82%) will try to save money this Memorial Day. More than half (54%) of celebrators say they will buy items on sale, 28% will use more coupons, 28% will prepare budget-friendly foods, 20% will switch to store/private-label brands, 17% will shop at dollar stores, 12% will reduce their travel, and 11% will buy smaller items.

Here are additional consumer purchasing survey findings:

  • In the week leading up to Memorial Day 2022, beer saw an 11% unit increase (vs. the week prior), and almost one-third of U.S. households (31%) purchased beer in that time frame.
  • As the warmer weather arrives, consumers are likely to opt for lighter beers and IPAs. In the week leading up to the 2022 holiday, light beers, IPAs and seasonal favorites were top picks, including Lagunitas IPA (+133% units vs the week prior), Bud Light Next (+122%), Blue Moon Light Sky (+84%), Corona Premier (+76%), Dos Equis (+76%) and Leinenkugel’s (+72%).
  • When purchasing hot dogs, Memorial Day baskets mimic a classic picnic menu. Shoppers purchasing hot dogs in the week leading up to Memorial Day 2022 were six times more likely to purchase beef burgers and patties and prepared beans on the same trip, and they were four times more likely to purchase classic dips, mac and cheese (shelf stable) and dill pickles.
  • Outdoor summer products start appearing in shopping baskets in the weeks leading up to Memorial Day. In the four weeks leading up to Memorial Day, unit sales spike for summer categories such as pools and chemicals (+132%), pool tools and accessories (+121%), sunscreen (+109%), pool floats and pool noodles (+81%) and grills (+54%).

AAA projects 42.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend, a 7% increase over 2022. This year, 2.7 million more people will travel for the unofficial start of summer compared to last year, a sign of what’s to come in the months ahead, says AAA.

Memorial Day road trips are up 6% over last year. 37.1 million Americans will drive to their destinations, an increase of more than two million. Gas prices this year are more than $1 lower compared to last year, when gas prices topped $5 per gallon in June 2022.