TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida Retail Federation is predicting spending for Easter weekend may reach record highs.
Shoppers are expected to spend an average of $146 per person for a national total of $17.3 billion, both records. In 2015, Americans spent $140.62 per person and $16.4 billion total, according to an annual Easter spending survey taken by the National Retail Federation.
Federation CEO Randy Miller said spring weather is a factor.
"People also use this weekend to purchase supplies and essentials for the spring season, meaning increased sales for retailers," he stated in a news release Monday.
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This year's expected individual spending is the 13-year history of the Easter spending survey. It predicts that consumers nationally will spend $5.5 billion on food, $3 billion on clothing, $2.7 billion on gifts, $2.4 billion on candy and $1.2 billion on flowers.
With shopping lists in hand, 58 percent of consumers will head to discount stores, 41 percent will go to department stores and 25 percent will shop at local small businesses.
Locally, Bradenton-based Bealls is expecting to see an Easter rush at its department stores and outlet stores. Bill Webster, the company's spokesman, said an earlier Easter Sunday will give the company a boost in a year that will likely see the area's seasonal residents heading north earlier than usual. Winter weather in many northern states was milder than usual this year. Spring weather also arrived earlier.
"Easter is traditionally the end of the snowbird season," Webster said. "It is the last highpoint in the year for that customer."
The retail federation noted that many shoppers will skip brick-and-mortar stores. Twenty-one percent will shop online, up from 19 percent last year. Among smartphone owners, 23 percent will research products on their devices while 15 percent will use their phones to make a purchase.
According to the federation release, consumers celebrate Easter in a number of ways: 59 percent will visit family and friends, 56 percent will cook a holiday meal, 51 percent will go to church and 15.6 percent will go to a restaurant. Thirty-one percent of consumers plan an Easter egg hunt and 14 percent will open gifts.