Easter may not get the commercial love Christmas does – nor a fraction of the attention – but in some sense, that is good news for Easter.
Because it means Easter gets to be a slightly more quirky holiday than Christmas.
Take, for example, the basket full of sweets – common all over the world in some form or another, though how those sweets get into their baskets varies.
In America, our baskets are delivered by a large bunny rabbit. In France, it’s a bell. In Germany, it’s a fox. In Australia, baskets are delivered by something called an Easter Bilby.
A bilby, according to local experts, is a marsupial that resembles a rat with long, “bunny-like” ears. Apparently it is locally beloved, as opposed to rabbits, which historically have a more complicated relationship with Australian people.
It also draws a wide variety of celebratory modes.
Spaniards don’t do Easter baskets or egg hunts at all – instead, they have a party for their whole family and eat a traditional chocolate cake.
In England, if the Daily Star is to be believed, people will use the occasion of the Easter holiday to “indulge in [a] 96-hour Easter booze and sport binge.” We should probably note that somewhat more reputable British sources, like The Guardian, somehow didn’t mention the 96-hour drunken sports binge, sticking to (mostly) more traditional, reputable stuff, like Easter egg hunts. There is a bit of a twist, but we’ll get back to that later.
And while it’s common to celebrate Easter with sugar – and has been since sometime in the late 19th century – Americans tend to go a bit bigger on the consumption end than our international counterparts. According to reports, what would be considered an average American Easter basket actually packs about 900 grams – or about a month’s worth – of sugar.
As a point of comparison, that is about the same amount of sugar in 24 chocolate chip cookies, or about 23 cans of soda.
Easter Spending, By the Numbers
Feeding our children a month’s worth of sugar in a single morning is not free, of course – it’s not even cheap.
According to the NRF, consumers are expected to shell out $2.6 billion on candy for this year’s holiday. That is a little over 10 percent of the $18.2 billion that Americans are expected to drop on Easter in 2018 on food, clothes, flowers, decorations and gifts. That is a forecast for the second biggest Easter on record in terms of retail spend – beaten out only by Easter 2017, which fell later in April and thus was considered a bigger spending draw.
“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.”
The 80 percent of Americans who say they are celebrating Easter in 2018 also say they plan to spend roughly $150 for each person on their shopping list. As for which categories draw the spending, food leads at $5.7 billion, followed by flowers at $1.3 billion. Nearly half (48 percent) of all consumers also plan to spend on clothing, dropping a total of $3.2 billion. Gifts will also draw a lot of spend, around $3 billion.
As for where customers are heading to do their holiday shopping? Discount stores lead the pack at 59 percent; department stores, on the other hand, can hope to see about 46 percent of the Easter shopping traffic in the NRF’s predictions. As for digital shopping, 28 percent say they will make a purchase online and (among smartphone users) 30 percent said they plan to research products or compare prices on their devices, while 19 percent plan to use their phones to make a purchase.
Sweet Jesus Ice Cream and Other Commerce Curiosities
We can judge a holiday by the amount of spend it generates in retail, but – like figure skating judges – we can’t help but award points for artistic presentation. And in 2018, there were really two innovators who deserved special mention for their contributions to Easter commerce.
The first one goes to a Canadian ice cream company, for coming up with an allegedly heretical ice cream flavor that managed to stir up offense of the type one normally only gets to see for Christmas.
The brand, which calls itself Sweet Jesus Ice Cream, launched in the U.S. just in time for Easter – and has drawn protests from those who claim its brand name is “highly offensive to Christians.”
The chain of restaurants, which sells ice creams, cakes and hot chocolate, originated in Toronto. “Our name was created from the popular phrase that people use as an expression of enjoyment, surprise or disbelief,” they noted of the controversy. “Our aim is not to offer commentary on anyone’s religion or belief systems.”
This year’s Easter miracle?
Canadians found a way to offend a massive number of people with ice cream.
But the runner-up has got to be this chocolate egg, current on display in Dubai. That giant egg was created to sit in the atrium of the Fairmount Dubai hotel for the Easter season.
“We are very proud to have successfully completed this spectacular project,” Chef Romain Castet said. “Constructing the egg wasn’t easy due to its enormous size, but it is definitely one of the most Instagrammable lobby centrepieces our guests have ever seen.”
In case you are wondering, the egg has about 450,000 calories.
See, don’t you feel better about that Easter basket you made? It has way fewer calories than that.
But however you celebrate your Easter, do it safely and enjoyably.
And with chocolate.