Business

Americans spending more on Mother's Day than ever before

'Most important holiday we have'

Los Angeles Times

An employee moves a load of flowers at the Southern California Flower Market in Los Angeles. Mother’s Day is the busiest holiday of the year for the floral industry.
Los Angeles Times An employee moves a load of flowers at the Southern California Flower Market in Los Angeles. Mother’s Day is the busiest holiday of the year for the floral industry.

Anna Jarvis, who led the push in the early 1900s for a national celebration of Mother’s Day, later decried the holiday because she thought it became too commercialized.

If only Jarvis could see the business of Mother’s Day now.

Americans are expected to spend a record $25 billion on Mother’s Day this year for flowers, jewelry, greeting cards and the like, according to the National Retail Federation.

That’s the highest spending in the 16 years that the trade group, together with Prosper Insights and Analytics, has been surveying consumers about their spending plans for the day.

It’s also up 8 percent from the $23.1 billion spent a year ago.

“It’s the most important holiday week we have,” said Scott Yamabe, manager of the Southern California Flower Market, one of the two entities that operate the flower mart in downtown Los Angeles.

Sales are “exponentially higher” than most days, he said.

The same holds true for 1-800-Flowers.com, which generates about $71.4 million, or 6 percent of its annual revenue of $1.19 billion, from Mother’s Day alone.

Mother’s Day also is the most popular holiday of the year to dine out, with about 87 million people going to a restaurant for the occasion, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Spending on those meals and other “special outings” for mom will total $4.6 billion nationwide, nearly 70 percent more than a decade ago, the association estimates.

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Consumers’ buying habits for the holiday are being shifted by millennials and young people, who increasingly seek “experiential” gifts or consumer electronics for mom rather than flowers and other traditional gifts, said Pamela Danziger, who runs the retail consulting firm Unity Marketing.

Those planning to get mom a spa treatment or other personal service, for example, have jumped to 24 percent of the total from 16 percent a decade ago, and spending on those gifts has nearly doubled to $2 billion, the association figures show.

Danziger says stronger millennial spending overall is one reason why total Mother’s Day spending is at a record, and that it partly reflects the relatively high number of millennials still living with their moms.

The real estate company Zillow Group said this week that 21.9 percent of Americans age 23 to 37 — or more than one in five, and 14 million in total — still live with their mothers or both parents, the highest level in nearly 20 years. That’s partly due to lofty housing prices and rising rents, the company said.

Hallmark Cards Isaid it also has seen growing millennial demand for “fun cards from the dog” for “dog moms and pet parents,” which the greeting-card giant gladly supplies as part of its 1,200-card portfolio for Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day overall is the third-largest holiday for the greeting-card industry, behind Christmas and Valentine’s Day, with 133 million sold for Mother’s Day, according to the Greeting Card Association.

That will amount to sales of $843 million this year, the association estimates.

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