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For Retailers, Easter Will Be a Treat This Year

Easter may be coming late this year, but its delayed debut will be ringing cash registers at retailers large and small, a new study shows. The holiday on April 24 — the latest Easter since 1943 — is predicted to generate $14.6 billion in retail sales.

The delayed holiday apparently is not dampening consumers’ eagerness to spend on decor, food and even new spring apparel, according to a new National Retail Federation (NRF) survey of consumer intentions and actions. The average consumer is expected to spend $131.04 on Easter-related merchandise, up from last year’s $118.60, lifting sales close to pre-recession levels.

“Due to such a late holiday, Easter promotions will last all spring long,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “Though lingering concerns over food and energy prices may keep shoppers from splurging, retailers are expecting consumers to stock up on apparel, home decor and of course food and candy, a good sign leading into the much busier and important months to come.”

Food and candy will account for the lion’s share of loot — $6.6 billion — in this year’s Easter basket, with food sales racking up $4.5 billion and candy adding another $2.1 billion. In human terms, that represents $40.05 per person for food and $18.55 for candy, up respectively from $37.45 and $17.29 last year.

The average consumer, the survey showed, will spend $21.51 on new clothing, $9.02 on flowers, $8 on decorations and $6.79 on greeting cards. The Easter bunny won’t stiff the small ones, either. Spending on gifts will reach an average of $19.89.

The most popular destinations for Easter gifts this year will be department stores (36.6 percent) and discount stores (62.6 percent), the survey reported, but specialty stores carrying flowers, jewelry and electronic merchandise will figure in the shopping plans of many consumers (22.4 percent). Others will shop at specialty clothing stores (8.1 percent), online (14.8 percent) and through a catalog (3.5 percent).

The big spenders this Easter will be 25-34 year-olds ($173.41 versus $136.79 last year) and young adults 18-24 ($145.12 versus $125.85). Thirty-five to 44-year-olds will spend an average of $138.55, followed by 45-54-year-olds ($122.15) and 55-64-year-olds ($113.32).