Thinking back 241 years, I doubt America’s Founding Fathers knew that signing the Declaration of Independence would be as impactful on our freedom as it is on our shopping habits. Or maybe they did? The truth is, today’s proud Americans celebrate July 4th by raising up our American flags — and opening up our wallets — to show just how much we love our country.

UNITED WE SHOP

From fairs and fireworks to block parties and backyard barbecues, there’s a whole lot of shopping involved. Why? Maybe shoppers know that Independence Day is the last holiday for the summer until the inevitable back-to-school sales and Labor Day extravaganza. Or perhaps it’s a chance for Dad to show off his new Father’s Day grilling attire while making more hot dogs and hamburgers than his family can realistically eat in a single week. Or, hey, maybe we all really love our country and want to give back to our nation’s retailers, who will be shooting off their own fireworks on July 5th — or whenever sales end this year. Whatever the reason, the average American household is going to fork it over this year to keep their forks full next Tuesday. How full?

WASHINGTONS, HAMILTONS & BENJAMINS

Shockingly, we are expected to spend $7.1 billion on food alone for Independence Day cookouts and fireworks-filled get-togethers, according to a very reliable source. Just over two-thirds of Americans plan to celebrate the holiday this year by eating $122 million worth of hot dogs, $371 million worth of chicken and $803 million worth of beef. And since it’s also the top beer-drinking holiday in the U.S. of A., we’ll be washing it all down with $1.6 billion worth of beer— foreign and domestic. Plus, from sparklers and poppers to firecrackers and ground spinners, as a nation, we plan to spend over $800 million on fireworks . That's a lot of combustibles in American hands this Independence Day. Be careful out there folks!

PREPPING FOR PATRIOTISM

So, when do stores get ready for July 4th exactly? If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you’ll miss it. Walking into my local Walmart last week, I got to witness the rare Changing of the Guard: in-store edition. Father’s Day was out, stars and stripes were in. Other retailers may have changed out their marketing materials, end caps and feature displays long before the summer solstice took place, but only if dads are not part of their target demographic. On the agency and brand side, prepping for this holiday starts months in advance — if it makes sense for the brand, of course. Or sometimes, even if it doesn’t. All because brands and retailers want to secure that contiguous-United-States-shaped space in shoppers’ wallets.

Whatever way you plan to celebrate the 13 original colonies’ legal separation from the British Empire, just know that you’ll be joined by a nation of shoppers all contributing to the U.S. economy. So go out and eat a hot dog, catch a fireworks show or two and thank a veteran in honor of your continued freedom — because that’s the American way. Just be sure to leave your red, white and blue fidget spinners and star-spangled rompers at home.