NEW YORK—Whether you celebrate Easter or not, there always seems to be something lighthearted and sunny in the air this time of year. Spring has fully settled in around most of the country, with flowers beginning to bloom and green grass making a triumphant reappearance. In addition to this Spring-fever optimism, Easter seems to put Americans in a mood to spend money as well. In fact, the National Retail Federation reports that people plan to spend an average $169.79 this year on Easter-related items.

About 80 percent of Americans plan to celebrate Easter in some way this year, the NRF reports, and will spend a collective $20.8 billion, which is down slightly from 2021’s forecast of $21.6 billion.

Although 80 percent of Americans plan to celebrate Easter, the NRF reports that just 51 percent are planning in-person celebrations. This is up from 43 percent last year. Food will make up the bulk of Easter spending—those who celebrate spend an average of $53.61 on food, $28.04 on gifts and $27.93 on clothing, the NRF found.

NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said, “Consumers are eager to return to their pre-pandemic holiday traditions, particularly as it relates to purchasing food and gifts for in-person celebrations this Easter. Friends and family want to be together, and consumers are willing to spend money to make these events memorable.”

The NRF also found that virtual church service is expected to be less common this year: only 12 percent of those surveyed are planning to attend by phone or video, compared with 32 percent in 2020.

Easter spending has generally increased over time, despite this year’s drop. The change this year may very well be due to inflation, which has seemed like a nonstop topic of conversation lately. The NRF found that 42 percent of consumers said they will look for something at another retailer if it is too expensive at their retailer of choice, and 31 percent will find an alternative like another brand or color. In the same vein, 50 percent of shoppers plan to do their Easter shopping at discount stores.

Chart via National Retail Federation

Earlier this week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that inflation rose 1.2 percent from February to March and 8.5 percent on a year-over-year basis. In addition to energy and gas prices, the price of food also rose dramatically.

Plus, many business owners are finding that wholesale prices are rising as well, leaving them with little choice but to raise their own retail prices. At the end of the line, these things come together to make life that much more expensive for every day Americans.

As we head into Easter weekend, it’s a good time to remember that expensive chocolate eggs and giant honey roasted hams are not required—especially if the price is way above what it was last year. This weekend is a time to be with loved ones, no matter what this holiday means or does not mean to you.