March 18, 2013, 2:56 PM

More consumers hop online for Easter

Many shoppers will research purchases and buy via their tablets and smartphones.

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More U.S. consumers will shop online this year for Easter gifts than was the case last year, with 21.1% planning to visit web merchants, compared with 18.7% in 2012, according to a new report from the National Retail Federation.

Overall, 15.1% of respondents plan to spend more this Easter, which takes place on March 31, than last year’s holiday. 19.9% plan to spend less this year, with the remainder, 65.0%, planning to spend the same.

Total Easter-related retail spending this year will reach $17.20 billion, the trade group predicts, up 2.7% from last year’s estimate of $16.75 billion. Consumers will spend an average of $145.13 this year on such products as candy, other food, apparel and decorations, nearly the same as last year, the National Retail Federation says.

“With a plethora of budgetary concerns already on their plates, Americans this Easter will look for special, creative ways to celebrate the holiday without breaking the bank,” says NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “And as spring weather rolls in, consumers will find affordable ways to spruce up their homes and wardrobes, just in time for visiting family and friends this Easter holiday.”

The trade group based its findings on an online survey of 5,050 consumers conducted by BigInsight between March 5 and March 11.

The survey found that 56.6% of respondents own a smartphone. Of those, at least 14.8% plan to use those devices to buy Easter items, with 25.9% expecting to use the phones to research products and compare prices. 19.6% of respondents with smartphones, meanwhile, plan to use them to look up such information as retail store hours and location.

34.7% of survey respondents report owning tablets. Of those consumers, at least 22.1% say they will use the devices for Easter-related purchases, with 34.0% planning to conduct product research and price comparisons. 20.7% will use their tablets to look up retail store information.

Respondents with mobile devices were asked to list all the activities they would use them for during the Easter shopping season. Those responses also include:

• 13.9% of tablet owners who say they will use apps to research or buy items; 10.7% of smartphones owners say the same.

• 16.3% of tablet owners who say they will redeem coupons via their devices; 16.9% of smartphones owners say the same thing.

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