Louise Zais of Mesa buys chocolate bunnies and greeting cards for friends and fills baskets full of jelly beans, gum and marshmallow eggs for the employees at her doctor’s office, bank and library.
“Then I buy myself a scarf or piece of jewelry for Easter,” Zais said. “I’ve been doing this for years.”
U.S. consumers are expected to spend $10.5 billion this year on Easter treats ranging from candy to clothing, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. Consumers who celebrate Easter said they will spend an average $107.17, up from $102.76 last year.
From hams for home cooking to elaborate resort buffets, they said they’ll ante up the most money for food — a tasty $3.1 billion nationwide.
At Scottsdale Plaza Resort, Easter dining is popular, both at the brunch buffet in the Garden Court and menu meals in the elegant Remington’s restaurant, but the holiday lags behind Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving, said Karen Murray Boston, Plaza spokeswoman.
The resort expects to serve 300 tables full of diners for the buffet and 100 to 150 parties at Remington’s on Sunday, she said.
“We’re seeing about the same (booking) pace as last year, ” Boston said Tuesday. “But in the last few days we get an influx of reservations.”
Shoppers also plan to spend more than $2 billion on Easter clothes, $1.7 billion on gifts and $1.5 billion on candy, they said.
Chocolate bunnies are the clear favorite among those with a sweet tooth, according to the National Confectioners Association.
East Valley chocolate bunny lovers can check out a 35-inch-tall version at Bernard Callebaut shops in Chandler and Kierland Commons on the Scottsdale-Phoenix border. Owner Murray Kuzek has four to sell for $350 each, two in each store and all signed by Callebaut. But for tighter budgets, he has plenty of smaller — and cheaper — versions.
The Easter crowd shops late — “Thursday through Saturday, we’ll have line-ups,” Kuzek said — so it’s too soon to say how his holiday will fare.
“But I suspect it will be pretty good, because overall this year sales have been up,” he said.
Nationally, the sweets industry expects to turn out 90 million chocolate bunnies and two million marshmallow chicks per day as the holiday looms. The final Easter tote should produce 16 billion jelly beans and 12,000 miles of Cadbury Creme Eggs, if they were laid end-to-end, the trade organization reported.
Flowers are big for the spring holiday, too. People bought more than 9 million lilies last Easter, according to the Society of American Florists. This year U.S. consumers will spend $710 million on Easter blooms, the National Retail Federation predicts.
More than half of Easter celebrants will buy greeting cards, an expected $550 million bonanza for card shops.
Easter is the fourth favorite holiday for Karen Broughton, owner of Broughton’s Hallmark at Fiesta Mall in Mesa. Christmas, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day are all bigger greeting card occasions, but Easter is generally good, Broughton said, and sales so far this year are better than last. Easter gift item sales are up the most, she said “We’re on an increase — not back to 2001 figures before Chandler Fashion Center opened, before 9/11, before the recession,” she said. “But a nice increase over last year.”
Samantha Chavez of Mesa said she will buy, “candy and colored eggs for the kids and a card for grandma,” but she doesn't think of Easter as a big sending holiday.
“It’s more about spending time with the family,” she said. “We’ll go to the park and have a picnic and barbecue and just be together.”