Business & Real Estate

Shoppers love dad, but they spend billions more on mom

What we’re getting dad for Father’s Day

Father's Day is Sunday, June 18. Here’s what American shoppers are projected to spend on gifts for dads in 2017.
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Father's Day is Sunday, June 18. Here’s what American shoppers are projected to spend on gifts for dads in 2017.

Congratulations to dads everywhere. Father’s Day is your special day to bask in your patriarchal grandeur, secure in the knowledge that your kids, family and friends spent $8 billion more on Mother’s Day than they did on you.

Eight billion dollars. That’ll buy a lot of neckties.

The numbers come from the National Retail Federation, which has projected that U.S. Father’s Day shoppers will spend an average of $134.75 this year, up 7 percent from $125.92 last year.

But that’s a whopping 41.4 percent less than the record-smashing $23.6 billion spent on moms for the most recent Mother Day’s in May, according to the federation’s calculations.

Why the massive difference?

Ana Smith, spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C.-based retail federation, said there are a couple of key reasons: “There are more women in the U.S. than men. Therefore, the chances are higher that more people will celebrate and spend on Mother’s Day compared to Father’s Day.

“If we look at just the numbers, 85 percent of consumers surveyed planned to celebrate Mother’s Day versus Father’s Day (when) only 77 percent are planning to celebrate the occasion.”

But then, Smith said, there’s also this: “If we dig deeper into emotional factors, consumers tend to spoil moms more since mothers tend to guilt their children if they don’t celebrate the holiday with them compared to fathers.”

What?! Sacramento-area fathers, aren’t you offended?

“Well, not really,” said 49-year-old Pete Walker of Carmichael, who last week was patiently waiting for his family to finish shopping at Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights. “My wife’s work is never done, with the house and the kids and her own job. … I think she deserves at least one day to be spoiled.”

Steve James, 38, a Roseville father of two out with his family at the nearby Westfield Galleria at Roseville mall, was likewise favorable to the idea of mom getting loads of presents and love on Mother’s Day.

“She deserves it … and I mean that for my wife and my own mom,” he said. “I’m not keeping score. … If I can take it easy and enjoy a nice day with my family on Father’s Day, I’m going to be happy.”

Relaxing or attending a special event on Father’s Day is a common gift for dads this year, according to the NRF. Its annual survey found that 27 percent of dads want to receive a “gift of experience,” such as tickets to a sporting event, concert or some other outside-the-home experience.

For fathers who simply want to sit on the couch on Father’s Day, TV networks tout dad’s day in their marketing of major sporting events, including Sunday’s final round of professional golf’s 2017 U.S. Open Championship from Erin, Wis., and Sunday’s running of the FireKeepers Casino 400, part of NASCAR’s 2017 Monster Energy Cup Series, from Michigan International Speedway.

That sounded just fine to Walt Johnson, a Citrus Heights father of two: “If I can have just one day to sit back and watch some sports on TV, I’m in heaven. … It’s not mowing the lawn or cleaning the gutters.”

The retail federation said American dads also can expect to receive $2.2 billion in gift cards, $2.2 billion in clothing and $1.8 billion in consumer electronics.

Retailers spent the past two weeks trying to grab a piece of that spending by bombarding The Sacramento Bee, local TV stations and online sites with Father’s Day gift promotions.

Besides plentiful Father’s Day cards, local Hallmark stores stocked up on specially branded mugs (“Super Dad), beer glasses (“The Man, The Myth, The Legend”) and cocktail napkins (“Dad’s Beer Goes Here”). featured a wide assortment of DeWalt work tools, and Best Buy had Father’s Day deals on quadcopters, Apple watches and Bose audio systems. A locally circulated paper insert for Sportsman’s Warehouse touted Father’s Day red-tag discounts on numerous outdoor items, plus a selection of handguns.

Luxury department store operator Neiman Marcus sent out email blasts touting everything from specially designed Burberry swim trunks ($85) to Stefano Ricci’s Royal Eagle Gold fragrance for men ($700 for 100 milliliters).

While Father’s Day gift ideas historically have been all over the lot, offerings for Mother’s Day are more traditional, which the NRF said partially explains the larger haul mother’s reap on their day in May.

For example, this year’s NRF survey projected that Mother’s Day shoppers in the United States spent a eye-popping $5 billion on jewelry this year, up nearly 20 percent from 2016. Taking mom out to dinner or brunch accounted for an estimated $4.2 billion; another $2.6 billion went for the old reliable, flowers.

Mothers also appear to have an advantage of getting goods from their comparatively young, tech-savvy children.

“We will see older millennials spend the most, and younger consumers are putting their online shopping skills to good use to purchase their moms the perfect gift,” said Pam Goodfellow, principal analyst for Ohio-based Prosper Insights & Analytics, which conducts surveys with the NRF.

And finally, at Sunrise Mall, 20-year-old Ariana Smith of Carmichael had an opinion that was voiced repeatedly last week among random shoppers at Sacramento-area shopping malls: “Dads are harder to shop for than moms.”

Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover