published Friday, April 18th, 2014

Easter-nomics: Expected holiday spending off slightly from last year

Lauren Sain, right, picks a photo of her child, Taylor, 2, with Easter Bunny photographer Sabrina Gutshall at Hamilton Place mall. Appearances of holiday personalities are scheduled to help draw patrons to the businesses.
Lauren Sain, right, picks a photo of her child, Taylor, 2, with Easter Bunny photographer Sabrina Gutshall at Hamilton Place mall. Appearances of holiday personalities are scheduled to help draw patrons to the businesses.
Photo by Tim Barber.
Poll
Will you spend more money on Easter goods this year than last year?

BY THE NUMBERS

* 78%: Americans in a PewResearch survey that identified as Christian

* 43%: Americans expected to purchase spring clothing around Easter

* 10%: Easter celebrators expected to buy candy

Source: National Retail Federation, Pew Research Center

THE EASTER INDUSTRY

* $5 billion: Expected Easter meal spending

* $2.6 billion: Expected Easter dress spending

* $2.4 billion: Expected Easter gift spending

* $2.2 billion: Expected Easter candy spending

* $1.1 billion: Expected Easter flower spending

Source: National Retail Federation, Pew Research Center

Easter brings around more than sunrise services, cool pastels and egg hunts in the yard for a handful of local business leaders.

It’s — to abuse the word — a hopping season for them as celebrators grab the usual lineup of foods and goods that have woven themselves into modern Eastern culture: jelly beans and chocolate rabbits. Plastic and candy eggs. Stuffed animals and Easter best dress.

And Americans are still into it all, according to recent data from the National Retail Federation, which projects total Easter spending this year to reach $15.9 billion.

According to the Easter Spending Survey released April 9, Americans celebrating the holiday will spend an average of $137 on apparel, food, candy, gifts and more.

That’s slightly down from $147 spent on average last year. And the survey says only 80 percent of Americans will celebrate the Christian holiday, compared to 83 percent in 2013.

But in the South, where Christianity has held on stronger than anywhere else in the country, Easter is often one of the top three to five holidays for business.

“We go from about three to four employees to about 35 to 40 for Easter,” said John Lane, general manager at Honeybaked Ham of Chattanooga on Thursday.

All this week, the store has offered longer hours to give area ham hunters a chance to get in and buy their Easter dinner centerpiece.

Lane said the Easter holiday rush makes up between 10 percent and 12 percent of the Chattanooga store’s annual business — second only to the November and December holiday season, which brings in about 70 percent.

Right now, Honeybaked Ham of Chattanooga is producing about 7,400 pounds of ham a day. Around Christmas, it’s about 10,000 pounds a day, said Lane.

And don’t forget sweets.

Jackson Bakery also stays on its toes this time of year, as their Easter-themed desserts and snacks get gobbled up.

“I’m sure we qualify in that big Easter rush,” said Sunny Jackson, one of the Jackson family who owns and operates the bakery.

And she said deadlines are made a little tighter by folks who put off their sweets shopping until the last minute — which is happening more and more.

“Every year it seems like people wait a little later to do things,” she said.

But since all of Jackson Bakery’s goods are made fresh, there’s nothing to do but prepare, she said.

She and Lane each said Easter’s timing can make a difference, too.

When Easter falls in late April, it typically means less business, mostly because another family get-together is just around the corner.

“The closer it is to Mother’s Day, people try to do one holiday combined together,” said Lane, which may explain why right now “this year’s a little slower” with Easter falling on April 20. That, and the opening of a Cleveland Honeybaked Ham location only 25 miles away.

Even so, “we’re almost on track,” he said.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.

about Alex Green...

Alex Green joined the Times Free Press staff full-time in January 2014 after completing the paper's six-month, general assignment reporter internship. Alex grew up in Dayton, Tenn., which is also where he studied journalism at Bryan College. He graduated from Rhea County High School in 2008. During college, Alex covered the city of Graysville and the town of Spring City for The Herald-News. As editor-in-chief of Bryan College's student news group, Triangle, Alex reported on ...

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