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Report: Average Easter Spending Expected to be Highest on Record

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As the market bounces back from COVID-19, 2021 Easter spending is projected to grow.

Consumers plan to spend an average of $179.70 this Easter, the highest figure on record, according to results of the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. 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.

“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,” says Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer, National Retail Federation. “Many have figured out how to celebrate holidays safely with family and that is reflected in consumer spending this Easter.”

Easter gifts, food and candy are the biggest drivers of growth this year. Consumers plan to spend an average of $31.06 on gifts (up from $27.91 in 2020), $52.50 on food (up from $51.76) 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.

This year, consumers plan to mark the holiday by cooking a holiday meal (59 percent), visiting with family and friends (43 percent), watching TV (43 percent), planning an Easter egg hunt (31 percent) or attending church (28 percent). However, not everyone is ready to resume in-person activities, with 22 percent indicating they will attend church virtually and 24 percent saying they will connect with their loved ones by phone or video.

“Keep in mind that last year’s survey was conducted in early March before the pandemic forced most of the country to shut down and reflects consumers’ pre-pandemic plans,” says Phil Rist, executive vice president, strategy, Prosper Insights. “This year’s numbers reflect not just consumers’ resilience in the last 12 months but also the enduring popularity of Easter.”

For those looking to purchase Easter-related items, 48 percent will shop at discount stores, 35 percent will visit department stores, 35 percent will make purchases online, 23 percent will go to a specialty store and 23 percent will go to a small business or local store. Similar to other holiday events during the pandemic, this year’s online shopping figure (35 percent) is the highest in survey history, up from 28 percent last year.

In addition, more than half (52 percent) of those who don’t celebrate Easter still plan to take advantage of these deals and expect to spend an average of $21.11 (up from $17.64 in 2020). The most popular item is candy, which respondents have shown transcends age, gender and disposable incomes.

The survey of 8,111 consumers was conducted March 1-8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

NRF did not release its 2020 Easter survey, which was conducted in early March 2020, just before government-mandated closures took place. Due to the timing, the survey reflects consumers’ pre-pandemic plans.

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