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US consumers expect to spend $14.44 billion on Easter this year – or, on average, $135.03 each (vs. $135.07 last year), according to the National Retail Federation‘s 2008 Easter Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch.

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The vast majority of Americans have never celebrated Easter as early as they will this year; the holiday falls on March 23, the earliest Easter since 1913.

Among the findings of the NRF study:

  • 79.0% of consumers say they will shop for Easter this year. Of those celebrating, the majority will spend the most on Easter meals ($41.09 on average).

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  • Consumers will also dish out an average of $23.82 for apparel, $21.42 for gifts, $18.12 on candy, $9.11 on flowers and $7.21 on decorations.
  • In total, 25-34-year-olds will spend the most this Easter ($151.41).
  • Discount stores will be the venue with the most Easter traffic this year (58.8%), followed by department stores (35.6%), specialty stores (23.6%) and specialty clothing stores (7.6%).
  • On average, young adults age 18-24 are expected to spend the most on decorations this year ($11.09 each), sprucing up dorms and apartments.
  • Young families (age 25-34) will spend an average of $10.00 on decorations, followed by 35-44 year olds ($7.44) and 45-54 year olds ($5.85).

“Easter is typically seen as the official kick-off to spring, when retailers debut new clothes and consumers are in the mood to buy for warmer weather,” said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin. “Although this is one of the earliest Easter holidays on record, retailers are hoping that this year will be no different.”

About the survey: The NRF 2008 Easter Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted for NRF by BIGresearch, was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to Easter. The poll of 7,796 consumers was conducted March 4-11, 2008.

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