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Easter outfits tilt to casual
Though holiday not as dressy today, it still rings up sales for retailers
Reba Ruth, left, shows some spring fashions to customer Nikki Pritchard at Carol’s Closet in downtown Gainesville. - photo by Tom Reed
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Easter may still boost sales at clothing stores, but some say things aren’t like they used to be.

“People are dressing more casually — manufacturers have stopped making the dressier clothes,” said Carol Roper, owner of Carol’s Closet in downtown Gainesville. “Everyone still likes to have new clothes for Easter, but they don’t care about being as dressy.”

Since first opening her shop in 1973, Roper has seen many Easter attire traditions change.

“Years ago, you didn’t see women wearing pants to church, but now half of the women are wearing pants,” Roper said. “Now, if you put on pants and a dressy top, you’re just as dressed up as the women wearing dresses or suits.”

Larger retailers also have noticed changing fashion.

“Hats and gloves aren’t as popular for children as they used to be. We do sell some women’s hats, but those sales have slowed over the years,” said Lisa Lassiter, Belk regional vice president.
Easter is still a time businesses can count on hearing the cash register bell ring.

“Sales tend to pick up during Easter time,” Lassiter said. “We’ve seen sales pick up in all areas from last year. Dresses, children’s clothing and ladies’ shoes are some of the areas where we have been doing very well.”

Some smaller boutiques also have seen sales increase.

“We’ve been doing very well lately; the sales have been pretty steady. I think the warmer weather has really helped,” said Elizabeth Waters, owner of Elizabeth’s on Bradford Street in Gainesville. “It always helps to have good weather in the weeks leading up to Easter.

Whenever the weather is nice, it makes you feel good. And when you feel good, you buy.”

Roper agreed that weather plays a role in numbers of shoppers.

“Easter comes at a time of year when people want to get out and do something after being stuck in the house all winter long,” she said.

According to the National Retail Federation, Easter spending is expected to reach $13 billion this year, up from $12.7 billion last year.

Of that amount, more than $2 billion is projected to be spent on clothing, with another $4.7 billion being spent on gifts, candy and flowers.

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