published Saturday, March 30th, 2013

Easter spending rebounding

Hot Chocolatier owner Wendy Bucker puts a flower made of icing on an Oreo dipped in fine chocolate.
Hot Chocolatier owner Wendy Bucker puts a flower made of icing on an Oreo dipped in fine chocolate.
Photo by Connor Choate.

EASTER SPENDING

Consumers will spend an average of $145 on Easter. Here's how most of the money will be spent:

* Holiday meal - $45

* New clothes - $26

* Candy - $21

* Gifts - $21

* Flowers - $9

* Decorations - $9

Source: National Retail Federation

Lori Elliott grew up in a flower shop. She was in elementary school back in 1977, when her mom, Jimmie Poe, started Jimmie's Flowers in Cleveland, Tenn.

She remembers when every church-going woman wore a corsage on Easter Sunday, when her grandmother would keep her orchid corsage in the fridge and wear it for three weeks.

Those were busy days in the flower shop -- it was easy to do 50 corsages during Easter weekend. Now she does 10, maybe.

"Honestly, for the last 10 years, we haven't really had a big Easter," said Elliott, who now co-owns the shop with her mother. "But this year, it has been crazy. We've done a lot of Easter lilies and tons of Easter basket arrangements."

Elliott is four times busier than usual this week, she estimated. She's had to order extra flowers to keep up with the demand for arrangements. She was creating about 35 Easter arrangements a day this week.

Nationally, Easter spending has been increasing steadily in the past few years, according to the National Retail Federation. This year, the average American will spend about $145 on Easter.

Most of that money will be spent on clothing, candy and food, according the National Retail Federation. Only about 40 percent of Easter shoppers will buy flowers, spending an average of about $9 a person.

"I'd say this weekend seems to be at least five times busier than last year," said Danny Bryant, who works at Barrett's Flower Shop in Dalton, Ga. "But in comparison, it is nothing compared to 30 years ago."

Shoppers will spend about $17.2 billion on Easter this year, nearly the same as last year. But consumers also are hunting for Easter bargains -- more than 60 percent will head to discount stores.

And while local flower shops say they can't count on Easter sales, candy-maker Wendy Buckner, who co-owns The Hot Chocolatier in Chattanooga, said she always depends on the weekend.

"Easter is awesome for us," she said. "It's our last big holiday before our slow season."

Nationally, nine in 10 consumers will buy candy this Easter, according to the National Retail Federation. But Easter is a bit earlier than usual this year, which could slow spending, Buckner said.

"It's a shorter shopping season," she said. "I just hope people think about it."

So far, despite the early date, Buckner still is selling hundreds of chocolate bunnies.

"It's a nice change from Valentine's Day, when we are doing so many hearts," she said with a laugh.

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at sbradbury@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6525.

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury joined the Times Free Press as a business reporter in January 2013, after starting with the paper as a general assignment intern in July 2012. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint Hill Times. Outside the newsroom, Shelly enjoys ...

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