Even during lockdown, Easter can shine through
With Europe now divided in its response to Covid infection rates, with several announcing lockdowns to cope with a third wave, will Easter be just one more hostage to fortune?
Europe cannot agree whether there really is any pent-up demand in the system although they can all agree it will be another subdued affair, as most countries are either still in lockdown or about to go into lockdown.
For three days over Easter (3-5 April), there will be a total shutdown across the whole of Italy. France is also in lockdown in Paris. Germany had been gradually easing restrictions but the arrival of a third wave has already reversed some of those. Spain is under a nationwide curfew until early May with people only allowed out to go to work, for education, to buy medicine, or care for elderly people or children.
In the first lockdown in 2020 in the UK, while grocery sales grew 9.1 % according to Kantar(12 w/e 19 April 2020), sales of chocolate eggs and novelties slumped 10.4% to £305.3m on volumes down 2.6%.
Supporters point to two dynamics; first, that average household spending fell over 2020 because consumers were unable to travel or visit hospitality venues; and second, that consumers would be in a buoyant mood once restrictions were lifted and would spend more generously than usual.
Detractors say there is no pent-up demand in retail sectors where consumers can continue to get almost everything they want; grocery stores remain open and everything else is available online.
However, they may find some common ground during a celebration that is observed across Europe so it makes sense for retailers to do what they can to make it easy for consumers to buy.
According to Global Data, Covid is expected to have a lasting impact on Easter 2021, as the number intending to shop for this event is forecast to decline for a second year running. 58.9% of consumers stated that they have already purchased, or intend to purchase, something for Easter this year. The decline is mainly down to gifting which is forecast to see only 40% of UK consumers purchase an Easter gift, compared to 53.5% in 2020.
However, there are a few things that retailers can do to soften the blow.
Recognise that not all Easter demand has gone away
With fewer consumers intending to spend this Easter, retailers must appeal to those still investing in this event, encouraging consumers to spend on more premium and indulgent Easter eggs as a treat after a difficult year. Sortiraparis in France has rounded up a list of high-end Easter eggs that this year, it has worked hard to make available in stores after the 2020 lockdowns stopped distribution entirely.
Catch up to consumer wherever they are
Easter in Germany is a four-day Spring break so citizens travel widely. It therefore makes sense to make essential retail outlets that are open as attractive as possible at all travel hubs such as railway stations where travel is allowed.
Make more of Easter in store
With non-essential stores closed, essential retailers can make more of the Easter sales opportunity by arranging flowers, eggs, decorations and gifts more conspicuously. And add items that are not Easter-specific but which see a sales rise around that time, wine for instance.
Sacrifice sales for positive brand messaging
Retailers that have to accept lower sales can still help their customers celebrate Easter with online Easter egg hunts, competitions and dressing store staff in Easter bunny outfits.
Pray for good weather
In countries where restrictions do at least allow families to gather outside, supermarkets can up their supplies of barbecue food and pizzas for an Easter celebration.