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The Father’s Day / Mother’s Day Spending Gap Explained [?]

June 11, 2012 2 comments

In our ten years of gathering spending intentions for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day for the National Retail Federation, one glaring item has always been consistent: shoppers spend more money on Moms.

While Dad finally appears to be getting his due this year, with the average consumer budgeting $117.14 this Father’s Day, spending for June 17 will still be eclipsed by the $152.52 they planned to spend on Mom last month. That’s right, consumers are allotting 23% less for dear ol’ Dad – and that’s an improvement from the 32% gap that existed in 2008.

Mother's Day v. Father's Day Combined Average Spending

So why do consumers spend less for Father’s Day? Perhaps we’re just so tapped out from Mother’s Day that by the time Dad’s Day rolls around, we’re tightening the purse strings. [wink] Jokes aside, let’s take a look at more realistic possibilities for the spending gap between those big days for Mom and Pop:

THEORY #1: Mom is…well…Mom. Under the most traditional of circumstances, Moms tend to be the nurturers in the family. Who else would kiss the bandaged knee and “make it all better”? [OK, maybe Grandma – also a Mom BTW]. Consider this, too: within two-income households, the multitasking mother may earn a paycheck and run the household. Now I’m not saying that Dad doesn’t chip in or do his fair share of chores and child-rearing [though I don’t recall my Dad ever doing a load of laundry], but doesn’t this double-duty earn Moms the right to a little something extra each May?

Perhaps different* parental dynamics just make us predisposed to doting on Mom a little more.

THEORY #2: Blame it on the weather. For those of us lucky to live in states where we see the seasons change [though I could do without Ohio winters], by early May the weather’s getting warmer, greenhouses are full of new flowers, and restaurants begin offering outdoor dining again – in a nutshell, we’ve got all of these super excuses to celebrate Mom (and put a little spring in our spending).

By the time Father’s Day rolls around, though, it’s also pool season, t-ball [etc.] season, graduation season – and that’s a lot of seasons to pack into a busy mid-June weekend. Perhaps it’s all we can do to fit a little special time in for Dad on Father’s Day.

And let’s not forget that it’s also grilling season. Hot dogs are cheaper than a sit-down restaurant, so the special family meal may be more cost-conscious than last month’s Mother’s Day brunch.

THEORY #3: What does Dad really want? When was the last time you saw your Dad drooling over the newest Pandora® beads or shiny trinkets in the display case at a jewelry store? For Mom, it’s probably another story, and that’s guilt in the form of savvy** Mother’s Day marketing, my friends. Retailers try to up the ante for Father’s Day, too, but it never seems to have the same impact, does it?

While some Dads may drop heavy Father’s Day hints, I’m willing to guess that [based on personal experience] most do not. So what to buy? Those golf clubs should last a good 30 years [right?!], and I don’t know about you, but I shudder just thinking about the prospect of heading to my local big box and hunting down a “good” tool that he already doesn’t have.

I KNOW.

THE BEST GIFT EVER.

WHAT DAD REALLY WANTS IS…

A TIE.

Did you know that besides greeting cards, the most popular tangible gift for Dad this year is apparel? Forget the spending gap; perhaps Dad’s bigger issue is that he’s suffering from gift discrimination. More than two in five shoppers (42.3%) plan to gift apparel for Father’s Day, compared to just 32.8% who anticipated buying apparel for Mother’s Day. [BTW, flowers were the most popular Mother’s Day gift this year.]

Percentage Planning to Buy Clothing: Mother's Day v. Father's Day

Whatever the reason that consumers spend less on Father’s Day, I guess it’s good that Dads just seem to go with the flow. And we love them all the more for it.

For the official National Retail Federation press release: Dads Finally Getting Their Due This Father’s Day, According to NRF Survey.

And, check out the Shop.org Blog for additional insights: Online Father’s Day shoppers expect seamless cross-channel shopping.

*Note: Not “good,” not “bad,” just “different.”
**Note: Not “good,” not “bad,” just “savvy.”

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – MAY-12 (N = 8789, 5/2 – 5/8/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

A Mom Blog

Wife, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, godmother, and sometimes just “mom”…we maintain a lot of connections to all of these special women in our lives, so what better way to show our appreciation for all of the mothers than a day just for her?

Not even this year’s escalating gas prices have put the brake on spending for Mother’s Day, which is the third highest-spending holiday that we track for the National Retail Federation (behind Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa and Back-to-School). And for this special analysis, we’re taking a look at Mother’s Day spending by specific store shoppers* at several major U.S. retailers.

Consistent with our Valentine’s Day findings, Macy’s shoppers are planning to spend the most on mom this year at $222.51, much higher than the overall average ($152.52). Costco shoppers index higher as well (at $164.96), while Target ($154.53) and JC Penney ($156.30) shoppers are expected spend consistently with the typical U.S. shopper. Walmart, Sam’s Club, Amazon.com, and Kohl’s shoppers are aiming for the biggest bargains for their bucks this year:

Mother's Day 2012: Combined Average Spending Plans
Interestingly – but perhaps not-so-surprisingly – Amazon.com customers are the most likely to head online for Mother’s Day gifts this year. Forty-seven percent of these shoppers are hitting the Internet just for mom this year (their top destination), which vastly eclipses the 25.6% planning to take to the web among the general population. And for more on the Mother’s Day online shopper, see the Shop.org Blog: Key dates and tips to target the online Mother’s Day shopper in 2012.

Planning to Purchase Mother's Day Gifts ONLINE
What else can we expect this Mother’s Day?

– While Walmart shoppers are the most likely to head to discounters (34.7%) among the retailers we analyzed, department stores (38.4%) and specialty shops (35.2%) will be top destinations for loyalists to the big W as well.

– Specialty stores will be the most popular gifting locales for Target, Kohl’s, JC Penney, Macy’s, Costco, and Sam’s Club customers, though Target, JC Penney, and Macy’s shoppers are nearly as likely to head to department stores, too.

– Among those armed with tablets, Macy’s and Target shoppers are the most likely to use this device to assist with finding the perfect gift for mom. Three out of five (61.7%) Macy’s customers will use their tablets to research or buy products, redeem coupons, or look up retailer information, while 56.8% of Target shoppers say the same. Overall, 51.2% of shoppers who own tablets will use these devices to shop for mom.

* “Shoppers” are defined as respondents who indicated that they shopped a retailer most often for at least one major merchandise category (including Women’s, Men’s, or Children’s Apparel, Shoes, Electronics, Heath & Beauty Care, etc.), unless otherwise noted. Shopper groups analyzed for this report (Walmart, Kohl’s, JC Penney, Target, Macy’s, Costco, Sam’s Club, and Amazon.com) are not mutually exclusive.

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – APR-12 (N = 8724, 4/3 – 4/10/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

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