Consumer Nation

Show the Love: Mother's Day Spending Seen 8% Higher


Here it comes, Mother’s Day, the second biggest gifting holiday on the calendar behind Christmas.

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This year, consumers are expected to stretch their budgets to show Mom the love.

Consumers are expected to spend an average of $152.52 on Mother's Day gifts, up about 8 percent from $140.73 last year, according to a survey conducted by BigInsight on behalf of retail industry trade group, the National Retail Federation. Total spending should reach $18.6 billion.

“Despite grappling with high gas prices, Americans will look for sentimental and unique ways to shower mom with affection this year,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

According to the NRF survey, consumers will spoil mom with special meals, clothing, electronics, flowers and more. Flowers and dining out are two of the more popular ways to celebrate, with two-thirds (66.4 percent) buying flowers, and more than half going out to dinner or brunch.

Nearly one-third will treat mom to a new blouse or sweater, while nearly 13 percent will buy electronics, according to the survey.

“Tradition” is the watchword when it comes to buying gifts for Mom this year, according to Brand Keys. Their annual Mother’s Day spending survey predicts a slightly higher level of spending than the NRF survey. The group expects spending to rise 10 percent from last year to an average of $163 per person. Brand Keys polled 5,000 men and women for their survey, while BigInsight polled 8,724 consumers between April 3 and 10.

One big difference between this year and last is that fewer consumers expect to purchase electronics. The NRF expects fewer consumers to give electronics but they will spend slightly more than they did a year ago, while Brand Key sees a 10 percent decline in the number of people purchasing consumer electronics.

“Last year shoppers went high-tech,” said Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys founder and president. “But this year, they’re going with more traditional gifts, including cards, brunch or dinner, flowers, jewelry, and clothing.

“The shift back is a reflection of last year’s purchases when e-readers, tablets, and smartphones were the gift-of-choice. After all, no matter how much you love Mom, she doesn’t need a new computer or e-reader every year,” he said.

Brand Keys expects to see big increases in the sales of jewelry and clothing. Those are areas where consumers have cut back in recent years.

Passikoff also said the Mother’s Day spending trends reflect a more upbeat consumer.

“People are feeling better about the economy and about the future, and that’s showing up in their Mother’s Day spending plans,” he said.

Is She Pretending?

But gift-givers may want to think hard about what they buy Mom. Harris Interactive recently polled 2,199 adults, and found that about third of mothers said they only pretended to like their Mother’s Day gifts. Nearly two in three people in that survey said they wanted a “meaningful” gift. However, definitions of what constitutes a “meaningful” gift can vary.

Unity Marketing's latest Gifting Report 2012 found that consumable gifts, like chocolate, are one of the most popular and fastest-growing gift categories for Mother's Day. In the latest survey among some 2,000 gift givers, consumables like chocolate were becoming more prominent, while gift cards, another traditionally important item for Mother's Day, saw a decline.

"In our research, we found that consumers believe the ideal gift is the one that the recipient wants but is unwilling to purchase for themselves,” said Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing and author of Putting the Luxe Back in Luxury. “For some moms, this may well be an indulgent box of gourmet chocolates."

According to Danziger, chocolates are the second most popular gift given throughout the year. She said gift givers who want to stand out from the pack, may want to consider “experiential” chocolate gifts such as chocolate-based spa packages or gourmet chocolate tasting tours.

Most Wait Until Last Minute

There is still time to consider what to buy. Only 13 percent of shoppers plan ahead for Mother’s Day, which falls on May 13 this year. That group purchases their gifts about one month prior to the day, according to a PriceGrabber survey. PriceGrabber is an online shopping website owned by Experian.

Most shoppers will wait and buy their gifts the week of Mother’s Day, with about 18 percent making the purchase within 48 hours of the holiday.

All this procrastination means retailers may see slightly weaker sales in late April than they did a year ago, when Mother’s Day fell five days earlier.

Questions? Comments? Email us at Follow Christina Cheddar Berk on Twitter @ccheddarberk.