Dads counting on getting tickets to the big game or a new tie for Father’s Day this year might find themselves disappointed on June 15.
Then again, maybe fathers are used to it. The National Retail Federation (NRF) reported that consumers spend one-third less on Father’s Day than they do on Mother’s Day. Father’s Day spending will be $12.5 billion this year—a “blip on the retail sales radar,” the survey noted, in comparison to the $19.9 billion spent for Mother’s Day.
The average person will spend $113.80 on gifts for dads, down from $119.84 last year, and less than the average spent on moms, which was $162.94, according to the survey conducted for NRF by Prosper Insights and Analytics.
So what’s behind this discrepancy?
Paul Levinson, professor of communications and media studies at Fordham University, believes that fathers understand the importance of recognizing the work that their wives do every day.
“Mothers do an enormous amount of unpaid family work... so fathers and children are more motivated to show their appreciation,” said Levinson.
David Bakke, retail sales expert at MoneyCrashers.com, said the celebration of Mother’s Day especially important even if “Mom has a career along with all of her other responsibilities.” Though persistent stereotypes about gender differences seem to inform consumer spending on gifts for mothers vs. fathers.
“If you forget a Mother's Day gift, you might be paying the price for some time to come,” said Bakke. “Dad will normally be a little more forgiving.”
Dads are also more forgiving when it comes to gift selection, Bakke said, because fathers are easier to buy for and “are not as concerned with gifts as their female counterparts.”
“Most Dads would always appreciate a gift, but would be equally fine with just a card,” said Bakke. “I'd take just about anything as a Father's Day gift. Mother's Day gifts require more thought and creativity."
According to the survey, consumers will stick to the usual Father’s Day suspects this year —cards, ties, sports tickets and electronics. Two-thirds of shoppers (64.1%) will opt for a greeting card for Father’s Day. Just under half (42.6%) of shoppers will gift Dad with special outings, including sporting tickets and dinners, totaling $2.5 billion. Just behind that is apparel, mostly sweaters and ties, amounting to $1.8 billion of Father’s Day spending.
Offers.com vice president Howard Schaffer pointed out that typical Mother's Day gifts tend to carry higher price points. "Classic Mother's Day gifts like jewelry and flowers cost a lot more than classic Father's Day gifts like sporting goods and tools,” he said.
Culturally, Schaffer added, women are likely keep wish lists for items they’re coveting whereas men do not.
“Men are more inclined to buy their own sports equipment, tools, grills and so on," said Schaffer. "Most of us don't wait for Father's Day to get the specific, big-ticket items we want. Women, on the other hand, tend to wait for holidays to ask for more expensive items.”
Schaffer also said there is less marketing by retailers for Father’s Day, with 67 percent more deals and promotions for Mother’s Day last year compared to Father’s Day.
"Mother's Day gets considerably more hype than Father's Day,” he said. “As much as we dads might resent it, Mother's Day is just a more popular holiday."
“In general, Father's Day isn't as big a deal,” Bakke added. “I think that most Dads simply don't care as much about Father's Day as Moms do about Mother's Day. I know I don't.”