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No spending spree during Easter

Andreas Becker / el
April 2, 2015

There are usually plenty of presents at both Easter and Christmas. But for German retailers, Christmas is a much bigger deal. And yet, the Easter bunny has overtaken Santa - well the chocolate variety at least.

Osterhase frisst Weihnachstmann
Image: Imago

"Children now receive big presents at Eastertime," according to an EPD news agency story. "Easter is quickly becoming more commercialized," Germany's SWR radio station said, echoing the view that business will be brisk again around Easter.

The reports are familiar, said Stefan Hertel, spokesman of the German Retailers' Association (HDE). "But they're not entirely right. Easter is an important stimulus, but it's nothing compared with Christmas, which is by far the most important season in German retail."

The significance of the Christmas holiday season is clear from the association's sales figures. During November and December, retailers turn over 42.7 billion euros a month ($45.9 billion), compared with an average of 37.4 billion euros in the remaining months of the year - a marked increase of 14 percent.

Spring sales

Detailed data that might show the extent of a jump in sales in the run-up to Easter aren't available. During Christmas season, HDE surveys customers and retailers weekly, but HDE doesn't bother with that for Easter. From the perspective of most retailers, the early-spring holiday isn't that important.

Without detailed surveys, it's difficult to detect which purchases are actual Easter gifts, especially since the holiday coincides with the beginning of spring.

"During early springtime, many people snap up outdoor toys like Bobby-Cars, scooters, slides, swings, soccer goals or trampolines," said HDE's Hertel.

Chocolate products for Easter
Pester power at its best: Kids love a Santa/bunny treatImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Plants for the garden or balcony are also in high demand during Easter.

But what is perhaps measurable is the effect Easter has on other business sectors. Toy shops turn over about 2 billion euros each year, but "during the month in which Easter falls, they bring in 30 million euros more in sales" than in other months, said Willy Fischel, managing director of the German Association of Toy and Game Retailers (BVS).

"After Christmas and birthdays, Easter is the third most important gift-giving occasion for children," said Fischel.

Easter bunny outruns Santa Claus

Easter is particularly rewarding for those selling confectionery and decorative items. For chocolate manufacturers, the spring holiday is even more important than Christmas. With the production of 213 million chocolate Easter bunnies, the German Confectionery Industry Association (BDSI) expects a 3.4-percent increase this year over 2014.

At the same time, chocolate Easter bunnies are popular export items. 40 percent of the bunnies produced in Germany are sold abroad. Most of them will go to neighboring European countries, followed by eastern Europe, Australia and the US.

"The classic milk chocolate Easter bunny is still the biggest seller," said Klaus Reingen, Chief Manager at BDSI. "But bunnies and other characters like lambs or chicks made from plain or white chocolate are also popular."