February 23, 2015

Purim Takes Center Stage but Passover Looms as Retailers Prepare for Holiday Rush

NEW YORK - Purim is only a one-day holiday (March 5th) and is best known for the costumes children dress up in and the Misloach Monos baskets (that now takes on many shapes and much more) but it is a huge event as far as food is concerned. Coming just one month before Passover, retailers typically devote two to three weeks just to promote Purim baskets, snacks, hamantaschen, pastries, wines, and the food that will be consumed at the Purim seudah (party). It is most celebrated in cities like New York where one distributor estimated that “it was easily a $10 -15 million business just in New York and probably more.” But in many markets, it is merely a diversion from the prize, the pre-Passover sales with many retailers opening their Passover aisles as early as March 1st (the 8-day holiday actually begins on the eve of April 3rd). While Passover is celebrated by nearly 80% of American Jews, even if is for just one Seder, Purim is celebrated by more traditional Jews (largely Orthodox Jews), estimated at 15%-18% of the US Jewish population of 5.2 – 6 million (depending on the study).