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Easter sales spark retail boost

Easter sales
Mar. 23, 2013 @ 10:37 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Chocolate. Little dresses and ties. Toys. Pastel-colored decor and eggs. All add up to the Easter retail season, or what Ty Williams describes as the "spring Christmas season."

"People get their tax return, and they come on out," said Williams, an executive team leader at Target in Barboursville. It's a three- to four-week retail cycle that circles mostly around kids, he said.

"Candy is selling well -- especially chocolates and peanut butter eggs," he said. "Also what has sold well are summer toys like bubbles and balls. It's usually the time when it's starting to get warm out, and the kids want to get outside. ... And obviously we're selling Easter outfits -- girls and boys. Especially starting this weekend, that will really ramp up. And DVDs and movies are big now because they can put those in a basket."

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to Easter shop, but with costs and their shopping list in mind.

The federation's Easter Spending Survey conducted by BIGinsight suggests the average American celebrating Easter will spend approximately $145.13 on candy, decor, apparel and food, flat with last year's $145.28. Total spending will reach an estimated $17.2 billion.

"With a plethora of budgetary concerns already on their plates, Americans this Easter will look for special, creative ways to celebrate the holiday without breaking the bank," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a news release.

That's something that Lydia and Alex Gillespie, co-owners of KidSale consignment business, count on. Their seasonal consignment sales have children's clothes, toys and household furniture, and they're hot spots for parents with Easter on their minds.

With a KidSale that just wrapped up last week in South Point, Ohio, the Gillespies know parents are out to find warm-weather clothing this time of year and they're shopping on a budget. As it turns out, it's not just the fancy clothes that people want for Easter anymore, Alex Gillespie said.

"In our culture now, some churches have a lot of people wearing the traditional Easter clothes, but some churches are dressing down quite a bit," Alex Gillespie said. "People like to have nice, spring clothes in color, fashion and style."

The BIGinsight survey found much of consumers' budgets will go toward food for a family brunch or dinner: About 87 percent of those celebrating Easter will spend an average of $45.26 on items needed for their holiday meal. Nearly half (48 percent) will purchase spring attire, spending an average of $25.91 on new outfits for their children and even something new for themselves. Ninety percent will stock up on Easter candy, spending an average of $20.66. Consumers also will spend an average of $20.82 on gifts, $9.49 on flowers and $9.11 on decorations, the study suggests.

Sixty-three percent will shop at discount stores and 40 percent will shop at their favorite department store. About a quarter will shop at specialty stores, another 21 percent online and 10 percent at specialty clothing stores. The survey also found that 43.3 percent of smartphone owners will use their mobile device to do some research before Easter shopping.

For Gina Runyon of Huntington, Easter shopping for her nearly 5-year-old son, Andrew, is something she's savoring while she can.

"You don't get to do it very long, and I'm going to do it until he makes me stop," she said. "Now, I put what I want on him and he doesn't care, and there's going to come a day..."

One year, Andrew wore a little seersucker suit with shorts and high white socks, she said. Now that he's getting older, she's decided to go with a tan Dockers suit. Because Easter is in March and it might be chilly that day, she's decided to go with a sweater vest under the suit instead of a tie. Little buck shoes complete the outfit.

She knows that at church that day, everybody will be wearing their new Easter clothes. She'll get a new dress and her husband, Deron, will have a tie to match.

"Deron doesn't care about a new outfit. He just cares about a new chocolate bunny," she said.

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