Easter spending now more likely to be for brunch than bonnets

Easter Sunday for many generations was celebrated by showing off new spring finery—dresses, suits, shoes, and hats—a tradition immortalized in the Irving Berlin song “Easter Parade.” While, according to the National Retail Federation, this year Americans are expected to break records in Easter spending, there has been a shift over the years in how Easter dollars are spent.

The NRF survey indicates that Americans will spend $4 billion on clothing this Easter, but clothing no longer is the largest spending category for those celebrating the spring holiday. It is appropriate that Britannica calls Easter one of the principal Christian feasts since Americans this year are expected to spend $7.3 billion on food on Easter Sunday—the top spending category for the holiday.

Even those who do not consider themselves especially religious are likely to join the celebration by gathering with those dear to them for a special meal, according to NRF. “Easter endures as an important holiday for many Americans, signifying new beginnings and a time of celebration with friends and family,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in announcing the survey results. “As consumers plan to mark the occasion with a variety of traditions, retailers are dedicated to making this year a memorable holiday.”

According to the survey conducted March 2 through 7 with almost 8,500 participants, the $7.3 billion that is expected to be spent on food does not include the $3.3 billion that will be spent on candy. It also indicates $3.8 billion will be spent on gifts, $1.8 billion will be spent on flowers, $1.7 billion will be spent on decorations and $1.1 billion will be spent on greeting cards.

In all, American consumers this Easter are expected to spend $24 billion or an average of $192 per person, the highest figure on record and almost double the 17-year low in 2009. The previous record high of $20.8 billion total was set in 2020.

The decline in Easter clothing spending may indicate a trend toward more casual attire, or it may reflect a decline in church attendance even on a day that traditionally drew even casual church goers. According to the NRF survey, only 43 percent of those celebrating Easter plan to attend church.

The tradition of gathering around the table for a big meal is stronger than ever, according to NRF, and restaurants, including many in DeKalb County, are ready to accommodate groups of friends and family members as they gather in the restaurant or at home.

The online edition of Women’s Day notes, “While many chain restaurants across America close on major holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Day, you may be surprised to learn their doors stay open on Easter Sunday.

There are so many major chains open on Easter that it’s harder to find a chain in America that will be closed on April 9 this year.” The article lists chains with Easter offerings from the more upscale McCormick & Schmick and Seasons 52, both with Dunwoody locations, to more family budget friendly eateries such as IHOP in Lithonia and Golden Corral on Lawrenceville Highway.

Although buffets, once a common offering for Easter Sunday brunch, became less prevalent during the pandemic, special Easter menus already have been announced for many local restaurants. Family-size take out continues to be a popular option for dining groups. Since ham is the traditional Easter entrée, it’s no surprise that Honey Baked Ham—with DeKalb locations on Covington Highway, Buford Highway, and Lavista Road—in addition to its signature offering has an Easter take-out special that includes sides and desserts.

Among independent DeKalb restaurants, Petite Violette on Clairmont Road has announced that reservations for its special four-course Easter dinner are filling up fast and Decatur restaurants Parker’s on Ponce and White Bull say they are accepting Easter brunch reservations.

Restaurants also are preparing to accommodate those celebrating Passover, a principal Jewish feast that this year overlaps Easter, which is April 9. An eight-day celebration, Passover this year is April 5 through 13.


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