Easter sales decline and shift online

Average spending per person is forecast to decline this Easter despite pent up demand from a long cold winter, according to new consumer research from the National Retail Federation.

An NRF survey on nearly 6,400 consumers conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics indicated fewer people will celebrate Easter this year and average spending per person will decline to $137 from $143 last year. Total spend is expected to reach roughly $15.9 billion. A key reason for the decline is that the number of American’s who said they plan to celebrate Easter fell to 80.3% this year compared to 83% last year.

“The winter doldrums left consumers with a lot of pent-up demand, and though many Americans may take a cautious approach to spending on Easter items this year, retailers are anticipating that warmer weather will easily put consumers in the mood to buy bright clothes, holiday decorations and more,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “As one of the biggest holidays of the year, retailers are looking forward to increased customer traffic in stores and online, and will roll out promotions on everything from garden supplies and patio sets to apparel and grocery items as they help their customer prepare for the holiday.”

The bulk of expenditures will be for food ($4.9 billion) following by clothes ($2.63 billion), gifts ($2.4 billion), Candy ($2.2 billion) and flowers and decorations with $1.1 billion each, according to the NRF study.

“Americans are eager to dip their toes in the fresh green grass this Easter and celebrate the day with friends and family,” said Prosper Insights and Analytics director Pam Goodfellow. “Though they are planning to trim their budgets in terms of spending on food, clothes and gifts, most will look for personal and fun items that won’t break the bank in order to enjoy the day.”

Another notable shift relates to the number of people who now indicate that smartphones and tablets will play a greater role in their Easter decision-making. Roughly one third of those who own tablets said they would use the device to research products and compare prices, with the behavior was most pronounced in the 18-24 year old age bracket where 44% plan to use their tablets. A similar phenomenon was evident with smartphone where 23.4% of overall respondents said they would use their devices to research products while 37.1% of those 18-24 plan to do so.

As for actual purchases, 22% of tablet owners said they would use their device to make a purchase compared to 13.3% of smartphone owners. Smartphones are more popular for looking up retailer information such as locations, hours and directions. Nearly 19% of smartphone owners planned to engage in those activities compared to 15.8% of tablet owners.

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