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Strong Easter Spending Won’t Lift Apparel

Easter Sunday has traditionally been an opportunity to show off spring fashion in saccharine pastels, but as the coronavirus pandemic continues, consumers are now focused on gifts and classic creature comforts like food and candy.

Consumers plan to spend an average of $179.70 this Easter, the highest figure on record, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said Wednesday.

“A total of 79 percent of Americans will celebrate the holiday and spend a collective $21.6 billion, down slightly from last year’s pre-pandemic forecast of $21.7 billion,” NRF said, noting that its annual Easter spending survey was conducted in collaboration with Prosper Insights & Analytics. Last year’s forecast was based on a survey conducted in early March, before the coronavirus pandemic forced nonessential retailers to temporarily close their doors.

“With new stimulus funds from the President’s American Rescue Plan, positive trends in vaccinations and growing consumer confidence, there is a lot of momentum heading into the Spring and holiday events like Easter,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “Many have figured out how to celebrate holidays safely with family and that is reflected in consumer spending this Easter.”

In the latest survey, consumers plan to spend an average of $31.06 on gifts, up from $27.91 in 2020. They also plan to spend $52.50 on food, up from $51.76 a year ago, and $25.22 on candy, up from $23.30.

“As more and more individuals become vaccinated, consumers are planning to celebrate in ways they might have missed last year due to Covid-19. The newest CDC guidance on gatherings means some families might be able to plan a festive meal with vaccinated family members or take advantage of warmer weather and gather outside,” NRF said. The trade organization noted that consumers—at 59 percent—plan to celebrate Easter by cooking a holiday meal, while 43 percent said they will either visit with family and friends or watch television. However, 22 percent said they will attend church virtually, while 24 percent plan to connect with friends and family by phone or video.

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As for where they will shop for Easter-related items, 48 percent of those surveyed will head to discount stores, 35 percent to department stores and 35 percent will make purchases online. Twenty-three percent said they will go a specialty store, while 23 percent also said they will head to a small business or local store to make their purchase. And even those not planning to celebrate Easter, more than 52 percent, said they will be on the lookout for deals and holiday-related sales.

The survey of 8,111 consumers was conducted March 1-8.