Consumers' pull back impacting Easter retail sales

April 10, 2009 (CHICAGO) Easter is often a nice boost for retailers. They could have used the sales last quarter, but this year Easter falls a bit later. It seems the holiday may be an example of a new way consumers shop.

It's not all glitz and glamour for the Easter Bunny. There are baskets to be filled for the Ritz-Carlton's Easter brunch. Creations in the Kitchen for the adults is also underway. The hotel reports reservations are about the same as last year.

In this recession, businesses breaking even are grateful. ABC7 found evidence of cautious consumerism at a local Target, where the hunt for some had begun, the hunt for Easter bargains.

"It is different this year," said Angie Henderson.

"Hopefully will get through without too much harm," said Ben Utterback.

"You don't know what tomorrow's gonna bring," said Cindy Panzenboeck.

Easter may loosen a consumer's grip on her hard earned dollars temporarily, but experts predict cautious spending with continue.

"Consumers are learning to change their behavior and learning to feel good about less being more," said George Rosenbaum, Leo J. Shapiro and Associates.

Rosenbaum says that caution is devastating to retailers, because the small purchases may win while big ticket purchases are on hold.

"That pullback is becoming so popular that it's becoming almost fashionable to be thrifty," said Rosenbaum.

Rosenbaum says there is optimism and consumers are sitting on reserves. The combination could mean a improving year for retailers.

For now, the signs are subtle, and the focus on kids will likely help sales on less expensive items.

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