- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2008

Sales of Easter bonnets, candy and dinner are expected to remain flat this year.

The National Retail Federation (NRF), the Washington trade group that forecasts holiday spending, expects Easter sales to stay steady this year at $14.44 billion for food, clothes, gifts, flowers, decor and candy.

Last year, consumers spent a bit more on the holiday than the $14.37 billion forecast.

This year, 79 percent of consumers plan to shop for Easter, spending an average of $135.03 each, according to the NRF’s Big Research arm.

The date on which Easter falls changes with the lunar calendar. This year, Easter is the earliest it could be. The short Easter shopping season and the tight economy are likely to be hurting sales.

“Easter is typically seen as the official kickoff to spring, when retailers debut new clothes and consumers are in the mood to buy for warmer weather,” said Tracy Mullin, NRF president and chief executive officer. “Although this is one of the earliest Easter holidays on record, retailers are hoping that this year will be no different.”

Squirrel sighting

A black squirrel is a rare sight in Washington, almost as rare as a sit-down, upscale restaurant in the Adams Morgan neighborhood.

But a group of French-trained chefs is attempting just that with the recently opened Black Squirrel in a remodeled row house at 2427 18th St. NW.

The restaurant serves traditional American cuisine. Chef Gene Sohn and chef de cuisine Andrew Kern, both formerly of Marcel’s restaurant downtown, serve stuffed rainbow trout, as well as baby back ribs, Buffalo wings jumbo pizza slices and other fast food.

In other news

• A developer has signed a lease for the first grocery store in the area North of Massachusetts Avenue and Union Station, the fast-growing “NoMa” district, according to real estate firm Cassidy & Pinkard Colliers.

The long-rumored Harris Teeter, a 50,000-square-foot grocery store, signed a 20-year-lease for a space at First and M streets Northeast. The store, in the Constitution Square building, is expected to open in the winter of 2010 to 2011.

• JBG Rosenfeld Retail wants to demolish the Bowie Marketplace and replace it with a 185,000-square-foot retail and office center. The development firm proposed the plan to the Bowie City Council earlier this month.

The group bought the 240,000-square-foot shopping center, which has been largely vacant, in May 2006. JBG says it is in discussions to keep current tenants Safeway and Rite Aid at the site.

• Indigo Landing, the waterside restaurant in Alexandria, is scheduled to open Thursday for the season with a new menu. The Southern cuisine restaurant, which is managed by Guest Services Inc., has cut ties with Star Restaurant Group, which came on board last year for renovation help.

• Also opening for the season this week is Kings Dominion amusement park north of Richmond. The park will be open weekends beginning Saturday.

Retail & Hospitality appears Mondays. Send news and tips to Jen Haberkorn at jhaberkorn@washington times.com or 202/636-4836.

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