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Laura George shops for Easter items with her 1-year-old daughter Addie George at the Ooltewah-area Walmart on Tuesday, March 27, 2018 in Collegedale, Tenn. Laura was enjoying picking out Easter basket items for her first-born child.
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Americans won't just be reaching for Easter eggs and the buffet table this holiday weekend.

The National Retail Federation's (NRF) annual survey shows those celebrating the religious holiday will be reaching into their wallets and spending $18.2 billion total — the second-highest level on record.

That figure is a decrease from last year's record of $18.4 billion. An estimated 81 percent of Americans will spend about $150 per person this year — down from $152 in 2017.

Laura George of Cleveland. Tenn., was shopping among the pastel-colored Easter baskets and plastic eggs this week at the Ooltewah-area Walmart Supercenter. In the cart sat her 15-month-old daughter, Addie George, who was busy tearing apart the cardboard wrapping of an egg dye kit her mother picked out.

"I've already spent over $100," said George as she searched through shelves of egg-shaped candy. "It's easy to get that much if you get clothes and all the goodies, including spring décor."

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Little Debbie cakes sit out on the shelves at the Ooltewah-area Walmart on Tuesday, March 27, 2018 in Collegedale, Tenn. Little Debbie has several specialty cakes for the Easter holiday.

Nearly 60 percent of the more than 7,737 survey participants said they would be shopping for the holiday at discount stores, like George. The front display shelves at Walmart are filled with Easter décor, stuffed animals, packages of plastic eggs, candy and Easter-themed toys. It's easy to see how it can all add up, especially for people with several kids - $6 bucks per Easter basket, $1 for 12 plastic eggs, $3 bucks for a bag of pastel-colored M&Ms and another few bucks for an Easter egg dye kit.

George plans to join the nearly 58 percent of people who plan to eat a holiday meal and the 35 percent who will have an Easter egg hunt, the NRF states. About 60 percent of people will visit family and friends and only 50 percent of those celebrating the religious holiday will make it to church, the agency reports.

McKee Foods Corp., located in Collegedale and the largest, privately-owned snack cake bakery in the country, is gearing up for the holiday with their Easter products, which include vanilla and chocolate Easter Basket Cakes and Easter Egg Brownies. New to stores this year are the company's Easter Carrot Cake Rolls.

"Seasonal items are a vital year-round piece of our business plan for the Little Debbie brand," said spokesman Mike Gloekler. "We definitely see a sales spike during the Easter season, which immediately follows the Valentine season."

Gloekler said the Easter products build up to the holiday whereas McKee's Spring products – Butterfly Cakes, Spring Nutty Bars, Spring Marshmallow Puffs, Spring Iced Brownies and the Spring Party Cake – are available for a longer period of time.

The survey shows consumers will spend the most on food at $5.7 billion, $3.2 billion on clothing, $2.9 billion on gifts, $2.6 billion on candy, $1.3 billion on flowers, $1.1 billion on decorations and the least amount of money on greeting cards at $780 million.

"Despite a modest drop, the Easter forecast is still very positive and nearly as high as last year's record," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "Consumer spending remains healthy both for this holiday and this spring, and that paints an optimistic picture for the U.S. economy in the year ahead."

Contact staff writer Allison Shirk at ashirk@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

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