Easter Spending Expected to Top $22B

Spending on candy will reach $3.1 billion, according to National Retail Federation.
Danielle Romano
Easter basket with chocolate bunnies

NATIONAL REPORT — Nationwide, consumers are getting excited for the Easter season, and the numbers speak for themselves.

According to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics, consumer spending is expected to reach a total of $22.4 billion this Easter — the second highest in the survey's history, after last year's record-setting $24 billion when the holiday fell nine days later in the year. 

[Read more: Chocolate & Candy Sales Reach All-Time High]

"Each year, Americans look forward to the celebration of Easter and the renewal of time and traditions with loved ones," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. "Retailers understand the importance of this holiday and are ready to help their customers find the items they want and need at affordable prices."

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A majority of Americans (81%) plan to celebrate the holiday this year, the same as last year. They plan to spend an average of $177.06 per person, the third highest per-person spend in the survey's history, after $192.01 in 2023 and $179.70 in 2021.   

Consumers continue to spend the most on food ($7.3 billion), followed by clothing ($3.5 billion) and gifts ($3.4 billion). Additionally, spending on candy is expected to reach $3.1 billion while spending on flowers is expected to reach $1.6 billion.  

Respondents said they plan to celebrate holiday traditions in much the same way as previous years. The most popular Easter Sunday activities include cooking a holiday meal (57%), visiting friends and family (53%), and going to church (43%). Half (51%) of households with children are planning an Easter egg hunt at home. 

[Read more: Snack, Meal or Both?]

The top destinations to purchase Easter gifts include:

  • Discount stores (53%)
  • Department stores (40%)
  • Online (33%)
  • Local/small businesses (22%)
  • Specialty stores (20%)

According to the survey, consumers are inspired to shop for Easter-related items because it's tradition (64%), a social activity with family or friends (32%), or because of sales and promotions (29%).  

"The overall shopping experience itself also plays a role in purchasing behavior," said Prosper Insights & Analytics Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist. "This year almost one-quarter of consumers said they were inspired to shop for Easter items from store displays and decorations as well as exclusive or seasonal products."

More than half (55%) of those not celebrating Easter still plan to take advantage of holiday-related sales. They expect to spend an average of $20.52 per person, or $620 million in total, on these items.

The 2024 annual Easter spending survey from NRF and Prosper Analytics was conducted March 1-6. A total of 8,372 U.S. adult consumers participated in the survey.

Prosper Insights & Analytics is a global leader in consumer intent data serving the financial services, marketing technology and retail industries.

NRF, headquartered in Washington, D.C., advocates for the people, brands, policies and ideas that help retail succeed. 

Hopping Along

Unlike other major holidays with long lead times, most Easter shopping happens within a week of the actual day, according to the 2024 Advantage Solutions Easter survey, which garnered 749 responses from U.S. consumers who celebrate Easter.

Compared to the December holiday season — when more than two-thirds of shoppers start buying before Thanksgiving — more than 60% of individuals who "plan to be hosting and going all out" for Easter shop for candy within seven days of the holiday. More than a third shop one to three days beforehand. In terms of food, 72% of plan to shop within seven days before Easter.

While inflation and higher prices are factors in how much consumers plan to spend, they're not proving to be a barrier to purchase behavior — particularly for parents of young children who say they are trying "to keep the holiday spirit alive" and are willing to spend more to do so, according to Advantage Solutions.

However, even though inflation isn't stopping purchases, consumers are still looking for deals. "Finding a good price/value" is the top consideration for shoppers buying food (56%) and décor (49%), while 47% say it's a factor for candy and beverage purchases. In the candy and beverage categories, "favorite brand" outranks all other considerations with 58% and 49% of consumers, respectively.

[Read more: Consumers' Definition of Value Expands Beyond Price]

Candy is king for Easter shoppers, with 85% of consumers planning to purchase everything from chocolate bunnies to jelly beans and marshmallow treats this year. It's also a versatile purchase, with 74% of shoppers planning to use candy for Easter baskets, 62% planning to use candy for Easter egg hunts and 44% plan to use candy as part of their Easter décor.

What's in the Basket?

According to the March Consumer Digest survey from retail data science, insights and media company 84.51°, here's what will make it into Easter baskets this year:

  • Chocolate (57%)
  • Fruit flavored and sugar candies (47%)
  • Easter-themed and limited-edition candy (36%)
  • Peeps (29%)

When it comes to their stance on what the best kind of chocolate Easter egg is, the National Confectioners Association found that 42% of consumers want a solid chocolate egg, 35% of consumers are looking for a filling on their first bite and 23% are happiest with a hollow treat.

NCA_eating chocolate bunny

Additionally, in a debate of how consumers eat their chocolate Easter bunnies, they are divided. More than three-quarters (78%) said they start with the bunny's ears, 16% eat the feet first and only 6% go for the tail.

"The Easter season signals the start of spring — and is a perfect showcase of the continued excitement consumers have for incorporating chocolate and candy into their special occasions. No matter what treats they prefer, Americans can agree that every celebration is sweeter with chocolate and candy," said John Downs, president and CEO of the National Confectioners Association, a leading trade organization for the $48 billion U.S. confectionery industry.

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