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10 Little-Known Money Facts About the Fourth of July

By
Samantha Rose
Samantha Rose covers financial literacy for the educational arm of OppLoans. Her work focuses on providing hands-on resources for high school and college-age students in addition to their parents and educators.
Updated on March 18, 2021
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How Americans spend their time — and money — on Independence Day.

Food and fireworks: That’s what America does best on the Fourth of July. We fill our grocery carts with hot dogs and chips. We buy the biggest sparklers we can find. After that, it’s time to celebrate. But wait. 

What does that receipt say? 

The Fourth of July, it turns out, is expensive. Very expensive. And how much we spend may surprise you. So grab your pool floaties and pump up your patriotism. Here are 10 financial facts about the Fourth that will blow your mind. 

No. 1: Americans spend $6.7 billion on picnic provisions

The Fourth of July is the most popular day for grilling. But how much do people spend on their picnic provisions?

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans were estimated to spend $6.7 billion on food in 2019. The annual survey also found that cookouts, barbecues, and picnics were the most popular Fourth of July activity (61%). And the most popular foods eaten on Independence Day are unsurprisingly grilled: hotdogs, hamburgers, chicken, and BBQ.

No. 2: Americans spend an average of $73.33 per person on food

About 86% of Americans planned to celebrate the holiday in 2019, according to the NRF. Although we already know $6.7 billion was the estimated spend on picnic provisions, this breaks down to an expected average spend of $73.33 per person on food. Yikes! It appears the Fourth of July rivals many high-end restaurants in terms of pricing.

No. 3: Men spend more on food than women

The NRF provided a detailed breakdown of Independence Day consumer spending and celebration plans, including differences in spending by gender.

In 2019, the percentage of men (86%) and women (85%) who planned to celebrate the Fourth of July was nearly equal. Despite this, men were expected to spend more money on food than women for the holiday.

The average amount spent on food by gender:

  • Men: $78.68
  • Women: $68.20 

No. 4: 35- to 44-year-olds spend the most on food

The breakdown by generation was also revealing. People on the cusp of Gen X and Gen Y were more likely to go all out on the Fourth of July. 

According to the NRF, Americans aged 35-44 were expected to spend the most money on food. And the most frugal Americans? Those 65 and older were expected to spend the least.

The average amount spent on food by age:

  • 18-24: $74.55
  • 25-34: $78.91
  • 35-44: $81.29
  • 45-54: $79.72
  • 55-64: $69.36
  • 65+: $58.99

No. 5: Hot dog eating contest champs won $40,000

The Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest held on the Fourth of July is an American tradition. Competitors come from all over to compete for a chance at a title and prize money.

According to Nathan’s website, the annual Coney Island competition started in 1916 as a way to determine which of four immigrants was the most patriotic. The site lists winners as far back as 1972. In 2019, the current champs were Joey Chestnut and Miki Sudo, for male and female competitors, respectively. 

There is a generous $40,000 of total prize money allocated among first through fifth place winners. Winners each receive $10,000. Second place participants receive $5,000. Third place participants receive $2,500. Fourth place participants receive $1,500. And fifth place participants receive $1,000.

No. 6: Americans spend $1 billion on beer

The Fourth of July is one of the country’s largest holidays for drinking. In fact, it’s right up there with Super Bowl Sunday and St. Patrick’s Day.

According to a report from WalletHub, U.S. adults were estimated to spend about $1 billion on beer alone. And the amount, including wine, increased to about $1.6 billion.

No. 7: The U.S. imported more than $5 million in flags

America imports large quantities of red, white, and blue flags from abroad for the Fourth of July. In fact, patriotic American flags are a hot commodity based on the cost!

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than $5 million worth of American flags were imported in 2016. Who were the largest buyers? It turns out many businesses want to invest in patriotic cheer — for cheap.

No. 8: The U.S. imported $280 million in fireworks

From sparklers to snappers, Americans love their fireworks. And the fireworks industry is booming as a result.

Revenues for consumer fireworks have steadily increased since 2000 from $407 million to $945 million in 2018. And 2019 was the most expensive year yet! It was estimated that Americans spent $1 billion on fireworks for the Fourth of July. 

No. 9: Macy’s fireworks show costs $6 million

The long-standing Macy’s fireworks display along the Hudson River in New York City is the most iconic Fourth of July activity. In fact, Macy’s fireworks is the largest Independence Day show in the country. It is broadcast for two hours live on NBC to homes across the nation. And the show includes a star-studded cast of musicians and entertainers.

But how much does it cost the department store giant? In 2019, the fireworks were estimated to cost Macy’s $6 million, according to a WalletHub infographic.

No. 10: The minimum insurance coverage for firework shows is $5 million

The Fourth of July is synonymous with fireworks. That’s why cities across the nation invest in large-scale firework displays to entertain their residents. But did you know those grand shows come at a cost? 

Almost all venues require that fireworks shows must have general liability insurance sufficient enough to cover claims. And several states set their own minimum requirements for this insurance coverage. Typically, the minimum coverage for large-scale fireworks shows, like the Macy’s display, is $5 million, WalletHub reports.

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