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How Americans Celebrate July 4

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Washington, D.C. – The Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research recently polled consumers about their plans for this July 4 holiday – ranging from activities, to food choices, to the average amount of money people are willing to spend, finding preferences for barbecues, burgers, sparklers, and a bipartisan sentiment for governments hosting fireworks displays.


The institute, which is housed at the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, drew respondents from an online sample of 1,003 Americans. Their results showed that, for this week’s holiday:

  • 84 percent plan to celebrate America’s independence around the grill, and 74 percent will spend time at a fireworks show.
  • Half of respondents chose burgers as the quintessential barbecue item for their Independence Day meal.
  • When deciding what to serve or take to a barbecue, 59 percent said salad or corn on the cob, followed by burgers (53 percent), alcohol (43 percent), chicken, pork, or steak (37 percent), sausage, hot dogs, or bratwurst (33 percent), and watermelon (33 percent).
  • Consumers plan to spend an average of $80 this holiday, with those who are hosting planning to spend $130 and those simply attending planning to spend $60.
  • When accommodating the dietary restrictions and needs of guests, 58 percent of hosts plan to buy food specifically for those guests with special needs, whereas only 11 percent expect guests to bring their own food. The remaining 31 percent expect their guests to simply eat what they can from what is served.
  • Half of respondents plan to purchase fireworks for the Fourth, with no variation across gender, age, or place of living.
  • Those who intend to buy fireworks indicated that they would spend an average of $100 – slightly more than the average spent on food. Those with children will spend around $120 on average, which is $30 more than those without children.
  • Consumers indicated preferences for specific types of fireworks, with sparklers (65.1 percent) leading the way, followed by a combination pack (62.8 percent), firecrackers (52.7 percent), poppers and snaps (47.8 percent), Roman candles (47.1 percent), and snakes/strobes (34 percent).
  • The most important fireworks attribute was safety, but the color and size of the display also are crucial components.
  • Respondents said that the most patriotic activities for July 4 are watching fireworks (37 percent), flying the national flag (18 percent), hosting or attending a barbecue (15 percent), or wearing red, white, and blue apparel (10 percent). Less popular options were to sing the national anthem (9 percent), watch/read about America’s independence (6 percent), attend a parade (3 percent), read the Declaration of Independence (2 percent), or go to a baseball game (2 percent).
  • Consumers planning to attend a fireworks show planned to purchase red, white, and blue paraphernalia (60 percent), followed by lawn chairs (19 percent), picnic blankets (12 percent), or a grill (9 percent).
  • In a show of political consensus, 60 percent of conservatives and liberals agreed that the federal government should spend money on fireworks and 75 percent of both political affiliations agree that their local government should pay for fireworks shows.


The institute also ran an experiment to determine whether patriotism and national pride on the July 4 holiday exacerbate the American consumer behavior of “buying American.” When presented with two identical items, one labeled “Made in America” and the other “Made in China,” consumers were willing to pay more if it was made in America and less if it was Made in China.


About the Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research

The Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research, sponsored by KPMG, conducts and disseminates scientifically rigorous research that leads to innovative and actionable insights about consumers. Learn more online at


About Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business
Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business provides a transformational education through classroom and experiential learning, preparing students to graduate as principled leaders in service to business and society. Through numerous centers, initiatives, and partnerships, Georgetown McDonough seeks to create a meaningful impact on business practice through both research and teaching. All academic programs provide a global perspective, woven through the undergraduate and graduate curriculum in a way that is unique to Washington, D.C. – the nexus of world business and policy – and to Georgetown University’s connections to global partner organizations and a world-wide alumni network. Founded in 1957, Georgetown McDonough is home to some 1,400 undergraduates, 1,000 MBA students, and 1,200 participants in executive degree and open enrollment programs. Learn more at Follow us on Twitter @msbgu.