Chocolate Easter Bunnies with a protective mask and a roll of toilet paper are seen at a chocolate factory in Pirmasens, Germany, April 9, 2020, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski
Chocolate Easter Bunnies with a protective mask and a roll of toilet paper are seen at a chocolate factory in Pirmasens, Germany, April 9, 2020, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski Image Credit: REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

Swiss chocolate makers are offering unprecedented price cuts in an attempt to stem weak demand during the key Easter season, as shoppers scoop up toilet paper and canned soup rather than tinfoil bunnies.

Lindt & Spruengli AG is offering online price cuts of 30% on its entire Easter assortment. Laederach, another high-end chocolate chain, abandoned its practice of avoiding discounts this year. Retailers across Europe and North America are also offering promotions of as much as 50%.

With lockdowns around the world aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus and many people out of work, consumers are focusing on essential food and beverages and leaving aside the frivolities. Lindt, the world's largest maker of premium chocolate, delivered its Easter products to retailers before the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic. Its own shops are now shuttered and travel bans mean that chocolate remains on the shelves at duty-free stores.

Easter accounts for as much as 15% of Lindt's total sales, according to Bank Vontobel AG's Jean-Philippe Bertschy, who added the company's sales will probably decline 14% in the first half, especially U.S. brand Russell Stover.

Both Lindt and Laederach have seen an increase in online sales, but they are unlikely to match lost sales in stores as chocolate purchases are often impulse buys.