Personal finance
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The Easter Bunny is getting pinched this year
With consumers hit by higher payroll taxes and feeling squeezed by a jump in gas prices this year, the Easter Bunny is getting shortchanged.

Retailers can expect the average Easter celebrator to spend $145.13 on candy, decorations, clothing and food, down a tick from $145.28 last year, according to a study from the National Retail Federation.

Even though it's a small shave for Easter spending, it's not good news for retailers already worried about consumers' tight wallets. Executives at Wal-Mart (WMT) had already expressed concern about a "total disaster" in its February sales as payroll-tax increases hit consumers earlier this year.

With shoppers watching their spending, almost two-thirds of families said they'll hit discount stores this Easter. Only 40% of those surveyed said they'd visit department stores such as Macy's (M), which tend to sell pricier clothing and home decor.

"Look for cost-conscious parents to scope the sale racks, head to discounters, and clip coupons to keep spending on track," said Pam Goodfellow, director of BIGinsight Consumer Insights, which conducted the survey, in a statement.

Nine out of 10 consumers plan to stock up on Easter candy, with families spending an average of almost $21 on chocolate, jelly beans and other goodies like Peeps and Mondeléz International's (MDLZ) Cadbury creme eggs.

The biggest portion of spending will go toward an Easter brunch or dinner, with most families spending an average of $45.26 on groceries for a holiday meal.

About half of consumers will buy new spring clothing. But they won't have huge budgets for those bonnets: Families are earmarking only about $26 for new pastel-colored outfits.
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