For Mother's Day, a few tips for gifts
Get ready for a bit more pampering this year.
The National Retail Federation expects consumers, especially men, to dig deeper into their pockets for Mother's Day this year than they have since the recession.
The Washington, DC-based group is predicting consumers will shell out $152.25 on average for mom this year, or $18.6 billion nationwide. That's up from the $140.73 they spent last year and $125 in 2009.
"Mother's Day has always been one of the biggest spending holidays -- only Christmas and Valentine's Day are busier gift-giving times," spokeswoman Kathy Grannis says. "We're not witnessing the mass panic in the economy that we did a few years ago, so there's more consumer confidence out there."
The federation's forecast was released as part of its 2012 Mother's Day consumer spending survey conducted April 3-10.
Two-thirds of consumers are expected to spend about $2.2 billion on flowers this weekend; 33 percent will buy clothing or accessories and about 13 percent will buy electronics such as tablets and digital cameras. More than half -- about 54 percent -- will take their moms out to dinner or brunch. Gift cards and a trip to a spa also are popular gifts this year, according to the retail association.
Men will shell out an average of $189.74, compared with $117.42 women will spend.
So does this mean Americans love their mothers a little more this year? Not necessarily, economists say.
Costs on some goods that often make good Mother's Day gifts, such as clothing and jewelry, generally have gone up in recent years. Also consider consumers are shifting toward buying mom more top-dollar technology-based gifts, like tablets, ereaders, Kindles and smartphones.
"They're nice (gifts) because, not only can they fill a mother's needs, they also help maintain relationships," says Cait Lamberton, a consumer behavior researcher in the University of Pittsburgh's Joseph M. Katz School of Business. "Spending on your mother is an unequivocally great way of investing in a relationship."
Florists have been counting on a big Mother's Day rush since Valentine's Day, though the industry has taken some financial lumps for longer than that. Many florists in Pittsburgh are sharing transportation with other flower retailers for deliveries to cut down expense while fuel costs fluctuate.
Phones at Cindy Esser's Floral, on the South Side, have been ringing constantly this week with orders from customers wanting popular spring floral arrangement featuring colored roses, lilies and snapdragons. Owner Cyril Esser expects sales traffic to pick up today, as procrastinators get desperate.
"Folks are more selective on what they spend on," he says. "But when they do spend, they want something good, not just a vase full of daisies."
Mother's Day also is big for area restaurants, which are pulling out the stops for champagne brunches and top-drawer buffets.
The $75-a-person Mother's Day brunch at the elegant Habitat restaurant, in the Fairmont Pittsburgh, Downtown, features choice servings of pepper roasted New York strip, blackened salmon and maple-glazed Berkshire ham. Its adjoining health club is offering Mother's Day spa packages that include a martinis-and-manicure package and 60-minute full-body massages.
"We know this is a popular holiday, especially for brunch," says Julie Abramovic, spokeswoman for Fairmont Pittsburgh. "We want to make sure to accommodate as many guest as possible because this is a special weekend for a lot of people."