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Mother's Day Sales Fall Flat

Mother's Day Sales Fall Flat
  • On May 18, 2011


After a disappointing Easter, retailers were hoping for a rebound on Mother’s Day but consumers continued to keep a lid on spending.

“Mother’s Day sales helped customer traffic flows, but consumers were also exploring other more discretionary channels, such as furniture and electronics stores,” said ICSC chief economist Michael Niemira, putting a positive spin on the numbers.


Though the sales numbers didn’t include retail spending on Mother’s Day itself (May 8), the slight increase in sales the prior week didn’t live up to expectations.  Or at least they didn’t live up to expectations from a pre-Mother’s Day survey conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and BIG Research, which predicted a double-digit jump in sales.

The annual `Mother’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey’ estimated the average person would spend $140 to celebrate Mother’s day this year compared to $126 in 2010, an increase of about 11%. The NRF said that Americans were “in much better position to spend this year and will push the daily stress of high gas prices and food costs aside for one day to celebrate…”

According to the survey, jewelry sales were going to see the biggest increase despite the still-shaky economy. Consumers were expected to spend $3.04 billion on Mother’s Day jewelry gifts - a 21% increase over 2010 – and 30% of consumers said they expected to purchase at least one piece of jewelry.

Consumers were also expected to spend $1.5 billion on electronics, up 8 percent from 2010. Sears even identified consumer electronics as one of its key product categories for Mother’s Day and focused some of its marketing on mom-friendly CE products such as digital picture frames.

But preliminary reports show those projections didn’t pan out. Spending was no doubt impacted by gas prices, which were about 36% higher than they were at the same time in 2010, hitting a national average of $3.99 a gallon in the first week of May compared to $2.88 a gallon last year.

But some Mother’s Day gifts could be paying dividends in the coming weeks as mothers start using prepaid gift cards they received as presents.

Card retailer CashStar said its gift card sales increase 123% for the week of May 2-8 compared to the previous week. And it said sales of gift cards on Mother’s Day were up 453% from the previous year, showing that cards are gaining in popularity as a last-minute purchase.

“CashStar had a record-setting Mother’s Day, as retailers and consumers alike increasingly realize the benefits that gift cards offer,” said CashStar CEO David Stone. The impact of gift cards is part of the reason the ICSC is predicting a 3% to 5% increase in retail sales for the full month of May.


  1. Kelly

    Very interesting...I opted out of having flowers delivered to my mother this Mother's Day because of the extra ($15) fee that most sites charge to actually deliver the flowers on Mother's Day. Instead, I bought a $10 bouquet at the grocery store and brought them to her at dinner.

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