Friday, April 3, 2009

Easter Sales Dropping, Not Hopping

APRIL 3, 2009

Finding sales tougher for retailers this holiday.

Easter baskets may still be colorful, but they won’t be as full this year. The economy is forcing even the Easter Bunny to cut back on traditional holiday candy, gifts and new spring outfits.

According to the “2009 Easter Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey” from the National Retail Federation (NRF), conducted by BIGresearch, US consumers will spend an average of $116.59 on Easter candy, gifts, food and decorations. That is down from $135.03 in 2008.

NRF estimates that total US spending on the holiday will be $12.73 billion.

The largest expense this year will be Easter dinner, with the average person spending $37.67 on food, a figure that is down from $41.09 last year.

Spending is off across the board. Gift spending will drop from $21.42 in 2008 to $17.30 this year, flowers will droop from $9.11 to $7.55 and candy will crumble from $18.12 to $16.55.

Spending on spring attire is also down—despite the fact that Easter falls three weeks later than it did in 2008. On average, consumers in the survey said they would spend only $19.44 on clothing, down from $23.82 last year.

As befitting the season, though, hope springs eternal.

“Retailers are hopeful that a late Easter will bring warmer weather and put shoppers in the mood to buy clothing, flowers and other holiday gifts,” said NRF CEO Tracy Mullin.

Not surprisingly, the survey found the majority of people (64%) will shop at discount stores this year, and that is up from the 59% who discount-shopped last year.

Approximately one-third of shoppers will go to department stores for Easter merchandise and nearly one in four will visit a specialty store.

Only 11% of Easter shoppers expect to buy online.

The NRF figures are backed up by an industry survey from IBISWorld, which showed Easter holiday expenditures declining 8%.

The firm estimates that total sales from Easter clothing, candy, flowers, decorations, food and greeting cards will fall from $14.8 billion in 2008 to $13.6 in 2009.

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