Super-Early Easter Dampens Spending, NRF Finds

This year's ultra-early Easter cast a chill over seasonal sales. The National Retail Federation predicts that the average Easter shopper will spend $135.03--down a hair from $135.07, for a total of $14.44 billion.

Sunday's holiday hasn't been this early since 1913, which means that while retailers fill their shelves with brightly colored spring clothes, shoppers in many parts of the country are more likely to be hunting eggs in turtlenecks and parkas.

Traditionally, food is the most important expenditure, and this year is no different: Those in the survey expect to spend $41.09 on average. And for most families, that still means ham--some 67% of Americans serve the traditional Easter ham, according to the National Pork Board.

But consumers say they will also dole out an average of $23.82 for apparel, $21.42 for gifts, and $18.12 on candy. And shoppers say they plan to spend an average of $9.11 on flowers and $7.21 on decorations.

While young adults (18-24) spend the most on decorations, which the NRF says is typically related to dorm rooms, it's the young-parents demographic that spends most heavily overall, with an average expenditure of $151.41.



Much of that, of course, goes to candy. And no matter how many dentists complain, it's not slowing. The National Confections Association says that last year, Easter candy sales increased 5.4% over the 2006 selling season. Non-chocolate Easter candy--think Peeps and jellybeans--grew 12.3%, while chocolate candy grew 3.7%.

And marketers are spending more to keep those baskets filled. ACNielsen reports that since 2004, candy advertising spending during the Easter season has exceeded Halloween ad spending. In September and October 2007, marketers spent $61.6 million on candy ads. In March and April 2007, they spent $90.8 million.

In terms of where consumers plan to shop, growing economic concerns mean that discounters will be the big beneficiaries. Some 58.8% of shoppers plan to shop there, while 35.6% will head to department stores, and 23.6% plan to go to specialty stores.

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