News & Politics

Every St. Patrick's Day, Guinness Makes a Killing

St. Patrick’s Day has become a global holiday, and that helps enrich our friends in Dublin, Ireland. Guinness Stout posts huge sales every March 17, but that may not be enough to help the struggling Diageo-owned multi-national beer company. The rise of craft beer is cutting into their volume, but St. Patrick’s Day is likely to provide a brief respite.

Celebrants drink more than 13 million glasses of Guinness every March 17, which is almost twice the amount guzzled on an average day, around 7.6 million glasses, Britain’s Telegraph reported.

The Britain-based O’Neill’s string of Irish-themed pubs expects to sell more than 71,000 pints of Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day. Its busiest branches can get through 16 barrels of the dark stout in one day, a huge boost above the approximately half-a-barrel the average O’Neill’s pub sells in any given day.

Here in the United States, sales of Irish beers, including Guinness, more than double in March compared to other months, according to Nielsen. Those of us with Irish heritage make up over one-tenth of the population, and the first St. Patrick’s Day parade happened here in America, not in Ireland.

Interestingly, only one of Guinness’ five breweries is located in Dublin, Ireland, while the other four make beer in Malaysia, Ghana, Cameroon, and Nigeria. Nigeria is the largest Guinness stout market in the world by net sales value, and that African country accounts for around one-fifth of the company’s global sales. Nigeria is the stout’s second largest market, behind Britain and ahead of the United States and Ireland. While Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Nigeria, the country does not celebrate his holiday on March 17, so Guinness does not profit more on that day.

Guinness badly needs a pot of gold, as sales for the stout continue to decline and it loses market share in the global stout industry. Craft beer is booming, and that hurts even well-established beers like the famous Irish stout. “Diageo must look beyond [one day] occasions for stout consumption,” warned Amin Alkhatib, alcoholic drinks analyst at Euromonitor International. “It must promote wider drinking occasions for the tipple and capture demand from undersold consumer groups, such as female drinkers.”

St. Patrick’s Day features more than a deluge of Guinness, however. The Chicago River has been dyed green, Rio de Janeiro’s statue of Christ the Redeemer has been lit up with green spotlights, and thousands have marched in the streets for the holiday. But when the festivities are over, a certain dark beer company will have to return to the daily grind of market competition. If you enjoy Guinness, you might want to drink it year-round.

For now, though, drink up! Here’s a playlist for the festivities.