March 14, 2008, 12:00 AM

Fewer consumers plan to go online to fill their Easter baskets this year

Only 11.1% of consumers plan to shop online for Easter gifts this year, down from 12.7% last year, according to a survey by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

E-commerce sites won’t be hopping as much as usual this Easter, according to a survey by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation.

Only 11.1% of consumers say they plan to shop online for Easter gifts this year, down from 12.7% last year. Two factors appear to be at work: Easter falls on March 23 this year, the earliest date since 1913, and a weak economy is putting a lid on consumer spending.

“Since it’s usually a bit warmer out when Easter arrives, there won’t be as many people heading out for new Easter outfits, and that also affects where consumers plan on shopping,” says an NRF spokeswoman. Consumers plan to spend only $23.82 per person on clothing for Easter this year, down from $26.03 last year.

By contrast, planned spending on food is up to $41.09 per person, versus $37.56 last year. “Where we are seeing increases is in the food category, not traditionally something you would buy online,” says Pam Goodfellow, a senior analyst at BIGresearch. “This year is about getting together with family, not purchasing gifts or clothing, items you might buy online.”

The average survey respondent plans to spend $135.03 on the holiday, virtually unchanged from $135.07 last year. 79.0% of respondents say they celebrate Easter, down slightly from 79.5% last year. Those who celebrate the holiday will spend $14.44 billion on Easter food, apparel, gifts, flowers, decorations and candy, BIGresearch says.

12.2% of men say they plan to shop online for gifts this year compared with 10.1% of women. Those with incomes above $50,000 are more likely to be planning online purchases than those making less, 12.0% to 10.5%. 17.7% of consumers aged 18-24 plan web purchases, but that drops to 11.1% for those 25-34 and drifts down from there to 8.9% of respondents older than 65.

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