Retailers and Churches Looking To Bolster Numbers With Easter Sunday And Jesus

Easter Sunday means a lot of things to different people, not the least of which is the resurrection of Jesus. For retailers, though, they are hoping for a resurrection of their sales this Easter season. The retail sector has been taking a beating for the past two years, and they need their own miracle along the lines of Jesus' rising. Churches also look to Easter as a way to bolster their numbers on Easter Sunday. The holiday is traditional for a larger church attendance, but churches hope to use Easter Sunday as a springboard for their regular attendance throughout the year.

Churches report seeing about a 30 percent increase in attendance on holidays like Easter Sunday. But they also see that increase drop off after the season passes. This year, as every year, they will attempt to grow their flock with passionate Easter Sunday sermons and celebrations.

Easter Sunday worshipers praising Jesus
[Image by Seth Wenig/AP Images]

This year's Easter is also showing promising signs of being a strong time for retailers across the United States. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the spending for Easter is expected to rise by 6 percent over last year's sales, with a total of $18.4 billion dollars being spent for the holiday. This is about $152 per person this year. The NRF is the world's largest retail trade organization. It conducts regular surveys of retail sales in the United States. NRF represents large chain discount and department stores, home goods, and specialty shops.

The areas where consumers will spend their money this Easter Sunday are varied, but the bulk of it will be in food. The breakdown provided by the NRF is as follows.

  • $5.8 billion for food
  • $3.3 billion for clothing
  • $2.9 billion on gifts
  • $2.6 billion for candy
  • $1.2 billion for flowers
  • $1.1 billion for Easter decorations
  • $788 million dollars for Easter cards
The reasons for the increase are attributed to a stronger economy and retailers offering good deals on their products. Another, more subtle reason could be the timing of this year's Easter. Easter is held the first Sunday after the first full moon of the vernal equinox. While that may not mean a lot to some people, for retailers it means Easter Sunday is three weeks later than last year. The weather is warmer, and people have had extra time to shop for Easter Sunday decorations, and they are more inclined to get out and go shopping for both decorations and their new spring clothes.

Easter Sunday couldn't have come at a better time for retailers, Reuter's reports that retail sales declined in March, just as they did in February. Online sales have been battering retailers for the past two years. The Atlantic reports there have been nine retail bankruptcies in the first quarter of 2017, and this is more than there were for the entire year of 2016. Large chains such as J.C. Pennys, Radioshack, and Sears have announced they would be shutting down 100 stores each this year. While strong Easter sales will help raise the bottom line for each of those companies, it is unlikely they will stop the stores from being closed. Other large chains, such as Urban Outfitters and American Eagle have seen their stocks hit all-time lows this year.

Sale sigh for store going out of business
[Image by Mark Lennihan/AP Images]

Even with Jesus as their main selling point, Christain retailers have also been affected by the downturn in sales. The largest Christian retailer, Family Christian, announced in February they are closing all of their stores this year. The retailer, long a go-to location for Bible merchandise featuring Jesus and other religious Easter items, will be shuttering 240 stores.

The reasons for the drop in retail is usually attributed to the rise in online shopping and too many stores selling the same items. But studies show there has been a shift in the way people are spending their money. Today, people are more interested in spending their money on meals with friends and family than buying goods from stores. They seem to want to have an experience with their money rather than more stuff.

This is reflected in the NRF study as their findings show 61 percent of people will visit family and friends on Easter Sunday, and 74 percent will cook a holiday meal or go out to a restaurant. Only 9 percent said they planned to shop at a store, while 10 percent planned to do some online shopping. Still, retailers are looking forward to increased overall sales on Easter Sunday.

[Featured Image by Najin/iStock]