FLORIDA — The National Retail Federation estimates Americans will spend over $24 billion this year on Easter and Passover. Although the trade group expects to see more families eager to travel and visit their near and dear ones this year, inflation is significantly driving up the cost of holiday celebrations.
A home-cooked eight-serving Easter meal in 2019 averaged $9.90 per serving or $79.22 total. Today, given the rising costs of eggs and meat due to inflation, the same meal averages $12.87 per serving or $102.96 total.
With 56 percent of consumers planning to cook a holiday meal, food spending is expected to top $7.3 billion – up from $6.32 billion a year ago, when an estimated 59 percent cooked a special dinner for Easter.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, at-home food prices rose 10.2 percent since this month last year. In addition, bakery products rose 14.6 percent over the year, and dairy prices rose 12.3 percent from a year ago.
For those who find joy in coloring eggs, a dozen costs 70 percent more than last year. In addition, meat prices are up more than 11 percent making the famous Honey Baked Ham a luxury item this year. Fresh fruit is also 12.4 percent more expensive this year.
Despite higher food costs, the most popular way families surveyed by NRF plan to celebrate the holiday is by gathering for a family dinner. Half of the respondents said they plan to spend the holiday with family and friends and 34 percent will participate in an Easter egg hunt.
THAT SWEET TOOTH
Spending is growing for candy, gifts and food this year compared to last. Consumers are expected to spend $3.3 billion on Easter candy, up from $3.04 billion a year ago. Candy prices have trended more than 12 percent higher than last year.
“With high marks for favorability and permissibility, along with the majority of consumers agreeing that confectionery is an affordable treat, chocolate and candy sales grew despite economic pressures,” said John Downs, CEO of National Confectioners Association. “Consumers continue to purchase chocolate and candy to enhance their emotional well-being, celebrate holidays and enjoy everyday moments.”
Hershey increased the cost of its confectionery products by 14 percent in the summer of 2022. The company cited higher ingredient costs, such as dairy and sugar, and increased labor and packaging expenses. Despite the price hikes, Hershey said demand has been strong in 2023. The company expects record sales growth between 6 and 8 percent for the fiscal year.
FOOD FOR THE SOUL
More than 54 percent of respondents said they would buy flowers, decorations and greeting cards this year. All three categories are expected to see higher spending compared to 2022.
“We are seeing real Easter sales growth compared with pre-pandemic, and among the drivers are consumers who are planning to purchase more Easter clothing and gifts. Consumers ages 35 to 44 will bump up their spending more than any other group,” said Phil Rist, Vice President of Strategy at Prosper Insights.
Easter and Passover endure as important religious holidays for many Americans. In a recent survey by the NRF and Prosper Insights, 43 percent of respondents said they plan to attend religious services, compared to 22 percent last year.
About half of the respondents (54 percent) are not celebrating the holiday, but they still plan to take advantage of Easter-related bargains.