Easter Spending Seen Up a Hair

NRF survey shows larger pool of celebrants spending slightly less.

An uptick in the number of Easter celebrants this year will help offset a dip in their eagerness to spend on apparel and other holiday items.

According to a survey from BIGinsight released Monday by the National Retail Federation, holiday-related apparel spending is expected to rise 2 percent this year, to $3.07 billion from $3.01 billion, with the average purchaser spending $53.51 on the category, 0.6 percent below last year. Overall Easter-related spending is seen rising 2.7 percent to $17.2 billion, despite a slight drop in overall expenditures, which are expected to trend down 0.1 percent to $145.13.

The uplift was supplied almost entirely by an increase in the percentage of respondents who expect to celebrate the holiday, which this year falls on March 31. Celebrants made up 83.1 percent of the sample, up from 81.9 percent last year. The percentage of celebrants who expect to spend less fell to 19.9 percent of the group from 22.4 percent a year ago, 24.7 percent in 2011, 30.2 percent in 2010 and 38.7 percent in 2009.

More than nine in 10 — 90.5 percent — expect to spend on candy for the holiday, while 86.9 percent expect to spend on food. That’s well ahead of the 48.4 percent who expect to purchase apparel, a number nearly unchanged from 48.5 percent a year ago.

Categories expected to get the biggest lift in spending include food, up 4.9 percent to $5.36 billion; candy, up 4.4 percent to $2.47 billion, and gifts, up 4 percent to $2.47 billion. Flower purchases are seen dropping 7.1 percent to $1.12 billion, while greeting card volume is expected to drop 1.6 percent to $799 million.

The poll incorporated responses from 5,050 consumers interviewed between March 5 and 11. Replies were based on spending intentions and compared with previous surveys conducted on the same basis.

Those intending to purchase Easter-related merchandise online rose to 21.1 percent of the sample from 18.7 percent a year ago. The only other distribution channel to gain in popularity compared with the 2012 survey were apparel specialty stores, selected by 10.6 percent of the respondents versus 9.7 percent a year ago. Department stores were selected by 40.7 percent of respondents, down from 42.6 percent last year, while discount stores remained the most popular choice for holiday shopping with 63.4 percent, down from 63.5 percent last year.

“Look for cost-conscious parents to scope the sale racks, head to discounters and clip coupons to keep spending on track and to make the holiday special for youngsters this year,” said Pam Goodfellow, consumer insights director for BIGinsight.

More than five in nine respondents — 56.6 percent — said they owned a smartphone, while more than a third — 34.7 percent — said they owned a tablet device. The majority of smartphone owners — 56.7 percent — said they didn’t intend to research or make a purchase using the device, while 25.9 percent said they planned to research products and compare prices, 19.6 percent said they would use them to look up information about stores, such as location and hours, and just more than one in six, 16.9 percent, said they planned to use their phones to redeem coupons as part of their Easter shopping plans.