Easter: the moveable feast

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In many European countries, Easter marks the first major public holiday of the year. Like all bank holidays, there’s an inevitable impact on business, but the effects of Easter in particular can vary depending on a number of factors.

Easter is a Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, which takes place in spring, with the date determined on a lunisolar calendar similar to the Hebrew calendar.

As Easter is a ‘moveable feast’, when it falls can have a huge influence over how much people spend and what they buy, while the weather during the holiday can effect who benefits from people taking those extra days off.

What is the impact on business?

Out of office
With the majority of workers receiving at least one paid weekday of leave over Easter and many taking additional annual leave due to the surrounding school holidays, there can be a natural decline in productivity during the Easter period.

Despite retail, wholesale, accommodation services and restaurants receiving a boost, business services, real estate and financial services, manufacturing and construction, which account for around 47% of the economy, lose out.

In the UK bank holidays account for just over 3% of the 261 potential work days a year, which means that they could be considered bad for the economy, putting downward pressure on GDP (Gross Domestic Product) output.

Retail spending
While Easter can spell bad news for some businesses, it’s a crucial time for retailers. Of course, there’s one very predictable thing you can expect people to spend money on – chocolate Easter eggs, with one survey in the UK claiming that children receive an average of 8.8 Easter eggs every year (which is double their recommended calorie intake for a whole week). But as well as a big push on sales of eggs, Easter cards and decorations and food for Easter celebrations, good weather during the public holiday can see a surge in spending on everything from picnic food and garden furniture to summery clothing. Timing is key though, with consumers much more likely to buy more in the years where Easter is early and right after pay day. However, if Easter falls so early that the weather is still wintery, it can also have a negative impact on retail sales.

The majority of the retail industry may rely upon good weather over Easter to up sales, but that doesn’t mean it’s a wash out for everyone if the clouds are grey. Rainy Easters can prove profitable for other businesses, such as cinemas, who see a spike in takings during damp public holidays.

Many workers chose to take advantage of the additional day or days of paid leave to take a mini break, which boosts the economies of ‘staycation’ destinations, such as seaside resorts and areas of natural beauty, with city breaks also proving popular.

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