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Merchants offer food, fun for holiday weekend
Brittany Richards, a Walmart bakery employee, puts the finishing touches on a July Fourth cake Monday at the store on Peachtree Parkway. - photo by Crystal Ledford

SOUTH FORSYTH — Americans will spend thousands of dollars this week getting ready for July Fourth celebrations.

While most will likely take in a free local fireworks display or parade, such as the city of Cumming’s at 9:30 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. Friday, respectively, many will also spend money on at least one family cook-out or other outdoor meal.

According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, more than 152 million consumers, nearly two-thirds of those celebrating the nation’s birthday this year, will celebrate with a cook-out, barbecue or picnic.

In total, they plan to spend an estimated $6.2 billion, or nearly $70 per household, on items tied to food celebrations for this weekend.

That number doesn’t surprise Zane McCusker, store manager of the new Walmart on Peachtree Parkway in south Forsyth.

He said some of the store’s big sellers this week likely will be grills and grilling supplies, along with classic foods that go on them.
“We have all of our grills set up right at the front of the store as people walk in so they don’t have to walk far to check those out,” he said Monday at the store, which just opened in May.

“As far as food, everyone will be buying hamburgers, hot dogs and steaks to cook out.”

They’ll also be buying all their favorite picnic sides, such as fresh watermelon and strawberries, buns and potato chips.

Brenda Reid, a spokeswoman for Publix grocery stores in the area, said the chain’s shoppers will also be buying cookout supplies this week.

“The Fourth of July is a traditional grilling event in backyards and parks around the country,” she said. “Our customers are looking for quality meats, desserts and side dishes to add to the festivities of fireworks, parades and picnics.”

Reid said some of the store’s most popular items leading up to the Fourth are pork spareribs, barbecue sauces and cupcakes decorated in red, white and blue.

At Walmart’s bakery, there will also be plenty of festive dessert items.

Bakery employees were busy Monday decorating cakes, cookies and cupcakes in the patriotic colors.

For those with more adventurous grilling tastes, Reid said Publix will also have sales on select cuts of salmon and boneless New York strip steaks, as well as Southern-style potato salad.

McCusker said items such as patriotic-themed clothing and supplies for outdoor fun, such as sunscreen and pool toys are also big sellers in the days leading up to July 4.

“Our busiest day will probably be Thursday,” he said. “People will be coming in getting everything they need to enjoy [Cumming’s] fireworks display that night and then the parade and cookouts on Friday.

“And with it being on a long weekend, everyone will be stretching their plans out as long as they can.”