It seems even high prices at the pump can’t keep the Easter Bunny away this year. According to NRF’s Easter spending survey, conducted by BIGinsight, Americans will shell out an average of $145.28 on everything from apparel and candy to food and decorations this year, up 11% from $131.04 in 2011. Total spending is expected to reach $16.8 billion.

“Though the price of gas is on everyone’s mind, Easter is one of the few holidays some consumers are willing to stretch their budgets, especially because many children look forward to treats and new outfits on Easter morning,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Retailers will make sure to offer plenty of promotions on candy, apparel, food and decorations in the coming weeks for eager holiday shoppers.”

According to the survey, those celebrating Easter have a hefty appetite for candy and new spring clothes. Nearly half (48.5%) will head to the stores to take advantage of retailers’ spring sales on colorful fashions and accessories, with total spending on those items expected to reach $3.0 billion. Most though, will head straight to the candy aisle (89.3%), shelling out more than $2 billion on traditional favorites such as chocolate eggs and jelly beans. The average person will spend more on these items as well: $26.11 on apparel, up from $21.51 last year, and $20.35 on candy, up from $18.55 last year.

Americans are also set to fork over more on their Easter meals with the average person expected to spend $44.34, up from $40.05 last year for a total $5.1 billion. Additionally, consumers will spend an average of $20.57 on gifts for their friends and family, $10.50 on flowers and $9.07 on decorations for their home and office. Half (53.6%) will buy greeting cards, spending an average of $7.04.

Though most people will shop at their local discount store (63.5%), department stores can expect a nice treat this Easter as well. Four in 10 (42.6%) – and the highest percent in the survey’s history – will shop at a department store for gifts and other holiday merchandise. Online retailers will see the biggest jump in traffic this year, however. Nearly two in five (18.7%) will shop online, up from 14.8% last year and just 11.1% in 2008. Others will shop at specialty stores (25.4%) such as a jeweler, electronic store or florist, or a specialty clothing store (9.7%).

“Beautiful weather conditions coupled with a slight lift in consumer confidence will likely be a boon to the Easter holiday this year as consumers begin to seek out new spring merchandise for their home or garden, and even their wardrobe,” said BIGinsight Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow. “It remains to be seen though, if this spending momentum will carry into the coming months with the cost of fueling up on the rise.”

Now a common shopping tool for millions of Americans, more than half (52.3%) of tablet owners celebrating Easter will use their device to research products and purchase gifts and other merchandise. Specifically, 25.7% say they will purchase something and 36.6% plan to research products and compare prices. More than one-quarter (26.3%) will look up company and store information, such as store hours and location, and 15.3% will use apps to research and purchase products. Additionally, 43.3% of smartphone owners celebrating Easter will use their mobile device to research and/or purchase items.

[Source:  “2012 Easter Consumer Spending Survey.”  National Retail Federation (NRF)/BIGinsight.  20 Mar. 2012.  Web.  20 Mar. 2012.]