5 Mother's Day Gifts We Spend Billions On

By Erin Joyce | May 05, 2010 AAA
5 Mother's Day Gifts We Spend Billions On

It's almost Mother's Day, and that means sons and daughters everywhere are carefully selecting that perfect something to show mom just how much she means to them – or they are spending five minutes online paying for a pre-selected Mother's Day bouquet. Either way, we all genuinely want to send that special woman in our lives something for May 9.

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According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the average person will spend $126.90 on Mother's Day, up 2.4% from 2009. But what are we spending that cash on? Here are the top five sectors, and the companies that benefit, on which we spend billions to celebrate motherhood, according to the NRF's 2009 data.

  1. A Meal Out
    Only the brave hearted take their mom out on Mother's Day for brunch or dinner. It is big business and the restaurants are willing to go to the mat to earn a part of the $2.7 billion we spend on eating out that day. Special a la carte menus, free meals for matriarchs and young children, as well as gifts for mom are just a few ways that restaurants attract customers.

    According to the National Restaurant Association, 38% of consumers go out to eat on Mother's Day, making it the most popular day of the year to dine out. Of those who enjoy a special meal on that day, 62% do so at a restaurant. Of those who dine out, 59% celebrate at dinner, 51% at lunch or brunch and 22% at breakfast, according to a 2006 National Restaurant Association survey.

  2. Jewelry
    Mom isn't likely to say no to something sparkly, so it's a pretty safe bet and a popular gift. In fact, we spent $2.3 billion on jewelry for her last year, a significant portion of the yearly total which was approximately $28 billion. Not bad for one day.

    Major players like Tiffany & Co. (NYSE:TIF) and Zale (NYSE:ZLC) offer such popular gifts as heart-shaped pendants, diamond earrings, Italian charms and bracelets. To make the gift more personal, consider a locket with a picture of her children inside or matching pieces for Grandma, mom and daughter.

  3. Flowers
    Who doesn't like getting a beautiful bouquet or planter? For Mother's Day 2009 alone, Americans spent $1.9 billion on floral arrangements. Big names like Liberty Media Company's (Nasdaq:LINTA) Pro Flowers and 1-800 Flowers (Nasdaq:FLWS) offer special Mother's Day products and delivery guarantees (when you order far enough in advance). Beyond a simple cut flower gift, these services also offer living plants, chocolates, dipped fruit, gift baskets with everything from picture frames to fragrances, and multi-product packages that are delivered on different days to make mom feel extra spoiled.

    As a slight twist, you might want to tempt your mother with a bouquet made of hand-dipped fruit cut to look like flowers, or a bouquet of candy. They won't wilt and mom can indulge her sweet tooth - and maybe even share some with her now-favorite child.

  4. Gift Cards
    They may not win imagination points, but gift cards ensure that mom never has to pretend to love that bright pink picture frame you bought her. Add that peace of mind to the convenience (and maybe just a touch of laziness, be honest) and it's no surprise that we spent $1.5 billion on gift cards last year. These can be as open-ended as Visa (NYSE:V) or Mastercard (NYSE:MA) pre-paid credit cards which will work anywhere those credit cards are accepted.

    If you want the gift to feel more personal, do some digging to find out what her favorite store is, or somewhere that carries an item she's been eyeing for a while. However, no one likes to be stuck with a gift card to a store they don't like, so maybe that pre-paid credit card isn't such a bad idea.

  5. Clothing and Accessories
    Although it may be a risk to guess at size and style, many of us opt to purchase mom something nice to wear. In fact, the NRF says we spent $1.2 billion on this category of gifts. Retailers like Macy's (NYSE:M), Ann Taylor (NYSE:ANN) and Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) are all great picks for mom this year. If you are concerned about picking out the right size, consider buying mom a beautiful scarf or great handbag - or a gift card to a store that sells those things.

Bringing Up the Rear
You might think that the sales would be higher, but only about 2% of greeting cards purchased are for Mother's Day, dwarfed by the 30% sales the Christmas and birthday categories earn each, according to the Greeting Card Association. And while spas try their best to convince us that body treatments are what mom really wants, only $1.1 million is spent on such personal services.

What Mom Really Wants
No matter how much or how little you spend on her this year, all moms appreciate the gift of your time. Making her feel special is as easy as spending the day with her - and that won't break the bank, so your wallet will be just as happy.

Feeling uninformed? Read this week's financial news highlights in Water Cooler Finance: Buffett's Armed and Greece Keeps Falling.

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