WASHINGTON — National Retail Federation here on Friday projected that consumers would spend a total of $14.4 billion on food, clothing, gifts, flowers decorations and candy related to Easter this year. The holiday falls on March 23 this year — the earliest it has occurred since 1913. The NRF survey, conducted by BIGresearch, said the average consumer will spend $135.03 on the holiday, about the same as the $135.07 spent in 2007. That will include about $41.09 on Easter meals, the largest portion of the spending, plus $23.82 for clothing, $21.42 for gifts, $18.12 for candy $9.11 for flowers and $7.21 for decorations. “Consumers who are planning big family gatherings will head to grocery stores in droves this week,” said Phil Rist, vice president of strategy at BIGresearch, in a prepared release. In other Easter news, despite rising egg prices, U.S. retail sales of eggs expected to top more than $95 million during the holiday week, compared to 94.7 million for the week ending April 7, 2007, according to The Nielsen Co. And consumers are expected to purchase more than 17 million egg coloring/dye kits during the week leading up to the holiday, compared to 17.2 million for the week ending April 7, 2007. Chocolate candy sales are expected to reach more than $318 million during the week leading up to Easter, from $318 million. “While we would expect to see some decline in the number of egg cartons sold given price increases, we certainly don’t see consumers widely cutting back on this food staple and Easter’s egg decorating tradition,” said Todd Hale, senior vice president of Consumer & Shopper Insights, Nielsen Consumer Panel Services.
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