Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors travel from around the world to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah. In fact, Savannah’s celebration is the 4th largest in the U.S., behind New York, Chicago, and Boston, with between three and five hundred thousand people attending the three-day festival. This year marks the 192nd celebration for the city of Savannah, and Clover’s debut as an official sponsor for the event.
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As part of the sponsorship, the festival’s food truck park has been outfitted with Clover devices, enabling those businesses – and the festival organizers – to take cashless payments for the first time. With the Clover hardware, businesses can not only accept card transactions, but also EMV or NFC-enabled payments. Additionally, the business owners are able to access the Clover platform, which includes a variety of solutions, including analytics tools, as well as more than 250 business management apps that are available on the Clover App Market.
One of the organizations benefitting from Clover is the Savannah Downtown Business Association (SDBA), which supports economic growth for local Savannah small businesses and organizes the annual festival. Festival goers are required to purchase a wristband from the SDBA, and those wristband sales sustain that non-profit’s activities year-round.
“The funds we generate St. Patrick’s Day weekend truly benefit our community throughout the year,” said Gina Peper, SDBA board member and one of the organizers. “Being able to take non-cash payments will be huge for us. Cash is often in short supply at the festival, and with Clover, we can now take non-cash payments, so that we won’t miss out on any opportunities to raise more money for our local businesses.”
St. Patrick’s Day is big business for the small business owners in Savannah, where that one weekend can represent a huge chunk of their annual revenue. In 2016, Savannah restaurants saw average ticket sizes rise for the third year in a row during the 10-day period surrounding St. Patrick’s Day, hitting $28.27—up more than $4 from 2014—according to First Data. Collected in a special First Data SpendTrend Report—a macro-economic indicator based on aggregate same store sales activity across the four million merchant locations First Data processes transactions for in the U.S.—First Data found St. Patrick’s Day offers local merchants a pot o’ gold as bar tabs and restaurant tickets rise for the holiday.
Savannah bars and restaurants should prepare for a rush. Last year Savannah bars saw transaction volume rise on St. Patrick’s Day by nearly one-quarter (24 percent) above average sales during the 10-day period surrounding the holiday, with an even bigger lift (42 percent) the Saturday following the 17th. Restaurants can also expect a rise, with 2016 transaction volume lifting 41 percent the Saturday following the St. Patrick’s Day holiday.
Jack Jackson, of 6 Gear Dog House, is thrilled to be able to take cashless payments in his truck.
“My whole concept is around good food as fast as you can get it. Clover will be a huge help to us to keep our line moving, and to serve as many people as possible. I know Clover will be a huge help, especially since this is my first time at the festival!”
Daniel Cloutier’s food truck, Molly MacPherson’s, does 47 events each year, but St. Patrick’s Day is by far the biggest.
“In the three days of the festival, we will serve thousands of people. It’s not uncommon for us to have a line of 45 minutes to an hour consistently throughout the day, based solely on the number of people in attendance and our truck’s popularity. It’s huge for us. I’m hoping Clover will help us to trim that time significantly, and now we’ll be able to keep better track of what we sell with Clover insights, so we’ll be better prepared for next year’s event.”
Low Country Lobster’s Lori Holland makes thousands of lobster rolls for each year’s event, and is excited to be able to use Clover to make the St. Patrick’s Day frenzy easier for her customers and her staff.
“Our food is about the experience, and if I can make buying it easier, that just means more people are more likely to buy from us, which means more sales for my business!”
Chazito’s Latin Cuisine focuses on authentic Latin fusion flavors, and has grown exponentially since starting with one food truck two years ago. While the other food truck owners at the St. Patrick’s Day festival are new to Clover, Chaz Ortiz has used it since he started his business. Initially starting as a hobby, his business then grew to one truck, followed by a second truck and finally a brick and mortar location, which he opened after last year’s festival.
“That’s how big this festival is for us. Literally, what I was able to make at last year’s event enabled me to open my restaurant, and I’ve had Clover since I opened. It’s grown with me as my business has grown. It’s so easy to use, and it’s easy for my customers. What more could I ask for?”
Want to join in on the fun? Follow #cloverallover on social media to keep up with the latest from Savannah this St. Patrick’s Day.
[Featured image: St Patrick’s Day Parade 2013, Savannah by Bruce Tuten on flickr]