Retail group: Fewer Americans plan to shop for Easter goods this year

Is Easter losing appeal as a retail holiday?

It’s probably way too early to say, but according to a new survey from the National Retail Federation, a retail trade group, fewer Americans plan to shop for Easter-related merchandise this year than last.

In the new survey, which was based on a poll of 6,387 consumers taken during early March, 80.3 percent of respondents said they plan to celebrate Easter this year, versus 83 percent of respondents in last year’s survey, said the federation, which is also known as NRF.

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Partly as a result, US consumers are projected to spend $15.9 billion on Easter-related purchases in 2014, down from last year’s projection of $17.2 billion, even though US consumer confidence, as measured by the Conference Board, recently reached its highest level in six years. In theory, higher consumer confidence should eventually translate into higher consumer spending.

The 2014 NRF poll showed that Americans celebrating Easter plan to spend an average of $137.46 on apparel, food, candy, gifts, and other merchandise, down from $145.13 spent last year.

The surveys are meant to be a snapshot of consumer intentions, and NRF spokeswoman Kathy Grannis advised against attaching too much weight to a single survey.

“It may be just the ebb and flow,” she said.

As the warmer weather arrives after a long tough winter, “people will come out of their shell,” she said.