Americans are projected to shell out $18.2 billion for Easter purchases this year — or $150 per person — according to a recent survey from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. That figure is down a bit from the 2017 record of $18.4 billion and $152 per person.
The NRF survey also found that, of the total amount of expected Easter purchases, consumers will spend $5.7 billion on food (bought by 87% of shoppers) and $2.6 billion on candy (bought by 89% of shoppers).
Consumers planning to color Easter eggs will see an uptick in retail shell egg prices this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation's Spring Picnic Marketbasket Survey. Eggs jumped 37% to $1.80 per dozen due to a hike in exports and flat U.S. production, the group said.
More than 90% of this year's Easter baskets will contain some form of chocolate or candy, according to the NCA. The group did a nationwide online survey of 1,500 people in January and found that most consume candy two to three times weekly, for an average of 40 calories and about one teaspoon of added sugar each day.
This Easter, candy makers are continuing a creative marketing streak to attract business. Hershey took advantage of Easter dovetailing with April Fool's Day by playing a prank on shoppers at a Northvale, New Jersey, ShopRite store. The company substituted its new Reese's Peanut Butter Crème Eggs for chicken eggs inside cartons in the dairy aisle and hid cameras nearby and behind the display. As shoppers checked the eggs inside the cartoons, they were greeted instead by a dozen chocolate eggs, and their surprised and amused responses were caught on film — which Hershey turned into a one-minute spot for its "Not What You Eggs-pected" campaign.
Last year, Hershey debuted an online Egg Finder app to help users locate Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs. Entering a location brought up nearby outlets selling the product. It was another way to keep the popular item top-of-mind during the holiday.
Despite the consumer trends toward no-sugar and low-sugar products, premium chocolate packing plenty of sugar and fat remains a big draw due to the indulgence factor. Food & Wine just reviewed some of the newest Easter candy entries, and their top five sounds fairly indulgent. For another perspective, NBC had four nutritionists rank nine common Easter treats by the amount of calories, fat and sugar per serving. Manufacturers are responding by limiting sugar content in candy and other sweet treats.
The National Confectioners Association is working with manufacturers to help consumers manage sugar intake through its "Always A Treat" initiative. Participating companies — Ferrara Candy Company, Ferrero, Ghirardelli, Lindt, Mars Wrigley Confectionery, Nestle USA and Russell Stover — have committed to give consumers more information and choices when it comes to candy. They have also pledged to limit individually wrapped products to sizes containing 200 calories or fewer per package and to have on-pack calorie information on 90% of their items by 2022.
But Sun Pacific is hoping to cash in on the health trend in its Easter marketing effort by urging consumers to fill baskets with mandarin oranges with its "Candies for Cuties" campaign. The California fruit grower, packer and distributor developed recipes and family-friendly activities to distribute on social media channels and urged retailers to share posts such as how to build Easter baskets with a Cuties theme.
The National Retail Federation can't specify what the big sellers are this Easter because it doesn't break sales data down by brands. However, there are some customer preferences that show up every year.
"We don't ask that question in our survey, but one thing we have noticed overall is that Easter-themed food and candy tend to be the biggest sellers such as Easter chocolate bunnies, Peeps, jelly beans with 'Easter' colors or flavors, Easter-themed M&M's and much more," Ana Serafin Smith, NRF's senior director of media relations, told Food Dive in an email.