Creative millinery at New York's Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival.

Consumers say they are going to spend more money this Easter – and that’s welcome news to retailers.

After a dismal holiday season, retailers will be happy to hear that the National Retail Federation’s annual Easter Spending Survey said that spending is expected to reach $17.3 billion. That would be the highest level in 13 years and a significant bunny hop over last year’s $16.4 billion. That works out to an average of $146 a person, versus last year’s $140.62 a person.

“Retailers are beginning one of their busiest times of the year and are more than ready as consumers shop for spring essentials,” said NRF president Matthew Shay.

Easter is earlier this year, on March 27, meaning it will fall into the first quarter and not the second quarter. This could also mean that April-over-April comparisons may not add up.

“I think, generally, Easter for a lot of people is a psychological kickoff to spring selling,” said Steven Lawrence, the chief merchandising officer at Stage Stores Inc., on the company’s recent earnings conference call. “So an earlier Easter, coupled with warmer weather, I think is a win for us, assuming it stays warm the rest of the way through.” He noted that generally warm weather and an early spring are good things.

According to the survey, shoppers will spend $5.5 billion on food, $3 billion on clothing, $2.7 billion on gifts, $2.4 billion on candy and $1.2 billion on flowers. Consumers are still cost conscious as 58.4 percent will be shopping at discount stores, while 41.4 percent plan to head to department stores. Local businesses will get 24.7 percent of the shoppers.

Easter e-commerce will jump to 21.4 percent from last year’s 18.8 percent. Mobile shopping continues to build as 22.8 percent will use their phones to research products and 14.9 percent will make mobile purchases.

“Consumers have longs lists of items they need to get their spring off to a good start,” said Prosper principal analyst Pam Goodfellow. “Smart shoppers plan to compare prices, research the items on their lists and take advantage of promotions on things like apparel and candy.”  Prosper Insights and Analytics conducted the survey for the NRF.

“For our missy brands it’s really our Christmas and we’re ready to go,” said David Jaffe, chief executive officer at Ascena Retail Group, Inc. “It’s one of those old adages, if it’s cold and snowy or rainy, women aren’t going to run out and get a new dress to wear on Easter. If it’s sunny and beautiful, they will.”

“Easter is a couple of weeks away and we’re pretty excited so far,” said Charles Kessler, global brand president of American Eagle Outfitters Inc.

The warm weather that wasn’t so welcome this winter is being received with open arms now.