Mom’s Day gets slimmer

Published 8:21 am Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Local merchants are gearing up for Mother’s Day, hoping people will want to honor mom with jewelry, flowers and gift certificates, even if a national survey says they will be spending a little less to do so.

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2009 Mother’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, Americans will spend an average of $123.89 per person, compared to last year’s $138.63. The poll of 8,667 consumers was conducted from March 31 to April 7.

“Retailers understand that people are on strict budgets, even for important holidays,” said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin. “Budget-friendly gift ideas will abound this Mother’s Day.”

Bobby Vick, owner of Kilby’s Flower Shop in downtown Franklin, said business is starting to pick up in anticipation of Mother’s Day — one of the hottest selling days of the year next to Valentine’s Day. The majority of people (66.8%) will buy flowers for mom, spending a total of $1.9 billion on those purchases, according to the survey.

“I expect next week to be busy,” Vick said. “We’re expecting a big day.”

Vick said the orders for the holiday run the gamut, from cut flower to plants to other arrangements.

“We’re going to be loaded with all of them this year,” he said.

Pat Sawyer at Pleasure Island said she expects Mother’s Day business to pick up next week, too. That’s when men start popping in for gift certificates for manicures, pedicures, tanning sessions and massages.

“They usually wait until the last minute to come in,” Sawyer said. “It’s an easy fix for them.”

Smith’s Jewelers used to sell the second most jewelry on Mother’s Day — right behind Christmas.

“It has dropped to third,” owner Billy Smith said. “We’re becoming a ‘gotta have it now’ society and people need to order things like mother’s rings.”

Sales associate Jessica Gibbs agreed.

“I’d love to say that we have had some great sales so far for Mother’s Day, but that is not the case this year,” she said. “Sterling silver is outselling gold right now. People still want to buy; they just aren’t spending as much. Customers who used to come in and drop $900 are coming in later — some not at all — and only spending $200-$300. Just as everyone else in this industry, we are hurting. But, we remain enthusiastic about upcoming events and hope to see sales improve. We do hope to see a turnout for Mother’s Day and are prepared to cater to customers’ specific price points.”

Of the four in five Americans (83.3 percent) who will celebrate Mother’s Day, the majority will focus on the women with whom they are closest.

Most people (62.4 percent) will purchase gifts for their mother/stepmother or wife (21.7 percent) and scale back on gifts for daughters (8.8 percent vs. 9.4 percent in 2008), friends (6.8 percent vs. 7.1 percent in 2008) and godmothers (1.6 percent vs. 2.1 percent in 2008) in order to save some money.

“No one will forgo celebrating Mother’s Day because of the bad economy, but they will put careful thought into what they buy and how much they spend,“ said Phil Rist, executive vice president of strategic initiatives, for BIGresearch. “Moms will understand that kids may be spending on a budget, so inexpensive, personal gifts will go a long way.”