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The Economics of Easter

 5 min read / 

Easter seems like a good time year for business, especially in Christian countries – like the US, where Easter is the third-largest celebration right after Christmas and Thanksgiving. While its origins are religious, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it has become more commercialised over the past decade.

But how much do households in the US actually spend in the period before visiting their families and friends for Easter, and what is the commercial trend for the relevant industries in the US? What are the success factors for the supply side of the spectrum? This article further clarifies these questions.

Easter: Good For Business

More and more people are spending their well-earned money in the run-up to Easter, especially in the US. According to the National Retail Federation’s annual Easter Spending Survey, which surveyed 7411 American customers about their Easter Sunday plans at the beginning of March, the total amount that is expected to be spent in the US is $18.4bn in 2017, which is approximately $152 dollar a person. This is considered to be the highest amount in 14 years, up by about 6% compared to 2016. Moreover, the amount spent during the Easter period has been rising significantly during the last decade, as can be seen from the following graph:

Total spending in the US was $14.4bn in 2007, followed by a rise of 27.78% in the 2007-2017 period. Furthermore, it is clear that Americans spent considerably less just after the financial crisis of 2008/2009, as the amount dropped to $12.7bn. Naturally, spending increased from 2009 onwards to reach a high of $17.2bn in 2013. As long as the economy is positively developing, planned Easter spending is going to increase with rather stable growth numbers, especially this year because Easter is planned considerably later than usual. Customers have an entire additional month to do the shopping for Easter and the time effect on spending numbers is even strengthened by the lovely weather forecasts in general.

More specifically, according to the survey, consumers are expected to spend $5.8bn on food, $3.3bn on clothes, $2.9bn on gifts, $2.6bn on candy, $1.2bn on flowers, $1.1bn on decorations, and $788mn on greeting cards.

From the above bar chart, Americans seem to prefer to purchase candy, food, and gifts to bring to family and friends, whereby ‘candy’ is mostly related to the Easter eggs that are hidden by parents for their children to search, a common tradition in America.

Next to the types of purchases, Americans also visit and order via certain stores for their Easter sales. The majority of Americans, about 58% to precise, visit discount stores to purchase their gift of preference, while the remainder visit department stores (46%), local stores (26%), or online stores (27%). The entire overview from the survey can be found below:

It is interesting to see how much Americans spend, what they buy, and which type of channel is used for the purchase. In the end, it is about the intention of going out to buy gifts, celebrating Easter with beloved ones. Almost two out of three Americans (61%) will visit their family and/or friends for Easter, 57% will cook a holiday-oriented meal, a majority visit church (52%), and a small portion go to a restaurant (17%). Additionally, more than one-third of the consumers surveyed (35%) are expected to have a so-called Easter egg hunt. Lastly, 16% of the consumers surveyed were planning to open gifts during Easter.

Easter Trends 2017: From Demand to Supply

From the previous part, it can be stated that Easter has been getting more and more important for businesses, especially for the retail sector, in recent years. Americans spend $152 a person in terms of Easter purchases. The question that comes to the forefront is the following: How can a business differentiate itself in order to maximise the sales level during the Easter period?

According to Smallbiztrends, there are up to ten different issues that should be taken into consideration in order to differentiate one’s business during seasonal festive peaks.

Companies should take proactive steps, not least because Easter is the most important celebration in the first quarter of the year, according to BMO Capital. Often sales levels see a downward direction after the Christmas holiday, and Easter is the moment to turn things around.

With Easter looking at US consumers around the corner, it can be concluded that Americans have spent hugely on gifts and equivalents around the Easter period. It is expected that 2017 will be a 14-year high in terms of total Easter spending, where consumers spend most of their budget for the holiday on candy, food, and gifts. Most of these purchase types will be bought in discount stores, department stores, or via the Internet. Initially, the amount of gifts bought via the Internet seems quite low compared to the other two types, however, gifts bought via the Internet went up from 21% last year to 27% this year, which is a yearly difference of 6%. Businesses have to take advantage of this upward trend by differentiating themselves from the competition.

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