For retailers, Easter is seen as the second coming of Christmas. For six long months they wait for the second largest spending holiday in the UK to arrive.
And egg-sactly how big are we talking?
Mintel estimated Easter to be worth £550 million to UK retailers, with an overwhelming 61% of shoppers saying they were not discouraged from purchasing premium items this year.
With more than 16,000 posts for #Eastertree on Instagram, and 1,000+ more on Pinterest, it became obvious that a number of High Street stores anticipated – no, encouraged – this shopper mindset.
But it wasn’t just the High Street that jumped onto the Easter basket. (Basket. Bandwagon. Get it? No…? Oh well, I’m going for it)
Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose stocked Easter crackers; Tesco, M&S and John Lewis sold egg-speckled wreathes; and even Poundland offered everything from bunny banners to carrot-shaped fairy lights! There was no doubt retailers were prepared to pull a rabbit out of their hats to give shoppers what they wanted.
But did they really make all the fuss ear-resistible to us this year?
With retail footfall declining by 5.9% on Good Friday, but increasing by 4.6% on Easter Sunday compared to last year, it seems there were mixed emotions as shoppers were torn between Easter luxury items and home-grown experiences in supermarkets.
“The results to date are in part due to the shift in weather compared to last year; Good Friday was exceptionally warm and sunny – better than this year – but windy and rainy for the rest of the weekend, compared to this year’s sunny and mild weather,” said Diane Wehrle of Springboard.
Food and drink outlets are key drivers of shopper footfall but Ms Wehrle noted the trend for increased spending outside of retail hours.
“This is believed to be a consequence of the worsening of consumer confidence and inflation, which has led to more conservative shopper spending on retail goods and their increased preference for spending on experiences,” she said.
And how did Brits feel when they actually did visit food and drink outlets?
According to IGD Shopper Vista research, over half (51%) of shoppers say that Easter is a time to support British food and grocery retailers and producers, with popular requests that included providing a wider selection of British sourced groceries (39%), grouping them together in stores (25%), as well as making it clearer on food labels that products are home grown (30%).
It’s clear that with Brexit still looming in the air and the rise in patriotism spreading throughout the island, this was a great opportunity for brands to showcase their British heritage beyond the obvious hot cross buns and chocolate eggs.
Easter marks the beginning of many classic seasonal British products and it was clear Brits were eager to stay true to the good ol’ Union Jack simply because the traditional Easter foods are in season at this time of year (46%), it’s fresher to buy home-grown since it hasn’t travelled as far (46%) and because it’s better for the environment (41%).
But, hey, maybe it’s not Brexit that’s making Brits feel this way. Maybe it’s because we have an insatiable need for guilt-free chocolate but with the average weight of chocolate egg shells falling by 6.1% – down from 185g to 174g in the last year, according to IRI UK – and the average price per kg soaring upwards by 18.1% [Kantar Worldwide] we have to turn our neighbours in this time of need!
It’s all enough to drive us hopping mad!
No wonder conglomerates removed the word Easter from their packaging this year! They couldn’t bear to bring the good name Easter into this chocolatey mess.
But this brings forth the thought, has removing the word ‘Easter’ from packaging effected chocolate sales?
Well, I managed to eat my weight in chocolate over the four day weekend regardless of the packaging, but the industry did see a strong shift towards artisan and craft sweets with a 63% increase of independent chocolatiers between 2015 and 2016.
I know, I know – I hear you screaming “London doesn’t represent the whole of England!” when I mention “artisan” and “independent chocolatiers” but give me a chance to explain.
Over the last year it’s actually Birmingham that has seen the biggest increase in small chocolate businesses. With a long and proud chocolate history, it made sense that they would become the hub of mouth-watering, chocolatey goodness since it’s the home of John Cadbury himself!
With that in mind, it’s no surprise to see that Cadbury’s went above and beyond this Easter with its Great British Egg Hunt.
Throughout the National Trust and National Trust for Scotland properties across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, children and adults alike went hunting for a good cause. Each location had a personalised egg hunt which linked back to each of the properties’ unique stories. From 1950’s styled eggs to dragon eggs with Cadbury’s in between, all money raised went straight back into conservation of the location.
During this time of change, it’s refreshing to see brands who understand the rising trend for experiential events, through the fog of retailers pushing premium products.
By supporting local businesses and British goods, Brits are changing their shopping habits and daring retailers to keep up with them. Even if in a lot of cases, the change is putting up a tree two times in one year.