Easter attracts its share of unfavorable comparisons and jokes — it’s like Christmas without the gifts, it’s like Halloween without costumes — it’s a rare opportunity to combine hide-and-go-seek, eggs, chocolate, the resurrection of the savior and a giant rabbit into a single concept — but we at PYMNTS think Easter is highly underrated.
Any holiday that involves a basket full of chocolate, an opportunity to buy a new spring wardrobe and admire adorable bunnies is all right in our book. And while we can’t quite explain why Peeps exist or why people like them, the Cadbury Cream Egg more than makes up for the artificial sugar-spun marshmallows that people uniformly say is the worst candy ever made.
That made us even more disturbed to learn that 2 billion peeps are produced each year and that 1.5 billion of them are eaten. (We suspect that the rest are held aside to harden, which Peep connoisseurs say is what takes Peeps to a whole other level of deliciousness.) We were equally horrified to learn that there are over 60 varieties of Peeps as well as Peep-flavored milk and Peep-flavored lip gloss and that the eyes of a Peep are made from carnauba wax.
That’s right — carnauba, a nontoxic edible wax commonly found in shoe polish that a team of British scientists determined was immune to boiling, microwaving, acetone, sulfuric acid and carbolic acid. In fairness, a regular Peep also survived everything but the carbolic acid, which is used as an industrial disinfectant.
And while Peeps sound as though they are actually not fit for human consumption, they do illustrate one of our favorite non-chocolate things about Easter: It is a treasure trove — or Easter basket — of interesting information.
Such as …
By The Numbers: Spending, Buying And Saving During Easter Weekend
Though bad weather is a famous retail excuse for poor performance, Easter’s moving nature on the calendar often means that when it falls makes a big difference in how much people spend. Warmer and late April Easters tend to elicit more spending.
Easter 2017, by National Retail Federation (NRF) predictions, is going to conform to that trend and might even turn out to be a record breaker. All in, Easter is forecasted to net $18.4 billion, up 6 percent from $17.3 billion last year and an all-time high in the 14-year-old annual survey.
Per person, that adds up to $152. As always, food — and candy, in particular — will be the big winners for consumer dollars, with $5.8 billion to be spent on the general category and $2.6 billion to be spend on candy alone.
Clothing is also on track to have a big year — $3.3 billion. That’s a big 45 percent pickup from 2016. Gifts are also up this year to $2.6 billion. Americans are expected to spend about $1.2 billion on flowers, $1.1 billion on decorations and $788 million on greeting cards.
“Most consumers have almost an entire extra month to shop for Easter this year, and by the time the holiday comes, the weather should be significantly warmer than last Easter,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “That should put shoppers in the frame of mind to splurge on spring apparel along with Easter decorations. With the economy improving, consumers are ready to shop and retailers are ready to offer great deals whether they’re buying Easter baskets or garden tools.”
The Stranger Side Of Easter
For those keeping score at home, people are spending more on Easter candy than they did on Halloween candy, about 100 million more.
That’s because a lot of candy is consumed in the U.S. and around the world for Easter. This weekend Americans will consume about 16 million jelly beans — which is enough laid end to end to circle the planet three times. But jelly beans will not be the star of the day — that honor goes to chocolate bunnies and eggs, of which 90 million of each are produced each year in the U.S., candy that Americans have a particular penchant for how they eat it.
We’re not kidding — there is data on this. Seventy-five percent of consumers bite the bunny’s ears off first, followed by its head, paws and tail.
It’s quite deliberate.
Individually, on a brand basis, however, Easter’s winningest chocolate candy is the Cadbury Creme Egg. Workers at Cadbury in Birmingham produce 1.5 million of these every day.
So what can we learn from Easter?
While it is often written off as an also-ran holiday, Easter packs a surprising retail punch when it falls at the end of spring and probably deserves more credit that it gets.
Except for Peeps, which we suspect will end up as an accessory in millions of Easter baskets but should be among the 500 million or so that end up being uneaten.
Happy egg hunting.