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Mother's Day Spending: What Are People Buying?

By Daniel B. Kline - Updated May 11, 2018 at 2:26PM

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It's estimated that we'll spend $23.1 billion this year in an effort to show our moms (and our children's moms) how much they mean to us.

Americans will always love their mothers, but it appears they won't be shelling out quite as much to celebrate them in 2018 as they did last year. Spending for Mother's Day is forecast to drop to $23.1 billion from $23.6 billion in 2017, according to a survey of 7,520 consumers from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

Still, that will rank 2018 as the second-highest spending year in the 15 years the NRF has been conducting this research. The 86% of Americans who celebrate the holiday will spend an average of $180 apiece.

"This year's Mother's Day forecast is one of the strongest we've ever seen," NRF CEO Matthew Shay said in a press release. "With spring in full bloom, Americans are looking forward to splurging on their mothers and retailers are prepared to offer a variety of options that will allow consumers to find the perfect gift for the occasion."

A happy Mother's Day sign sits in front of some flowers.

2018 Mother's Day spending will reach near-record levels. Image source: Getty Images.

Where are people spending their money?

Much of the Mother's Day spending goes to traditional categories. Those celebrating the holiday expect to spend $4.6 billion on jewelry, $4.4 billion on meals and, $2.6 billion on flowers. A separate study of 1,500 Americans conducted by ContentSquare gave some more detailed insight as to how and where some of that money will be spent.

  • Given nine national chains to choose from, 50% of respondents said if they were buying jewelry, they would purchase it from Tiffany's.
  • An overwhelming of survey respondents, prefer to purchase jewelry in-store (87%) rather than online (13%).
  • According to the survey, most people prefer to shop for flowers at their local florist; however, if they had to pick a national brand between 1-800-flowers, FTD, ProFlowers, Amazon, Teleflora, they prefer
  • When purchasing chocolate for Mother's Day, Ghiradelli (30%) and Godiva (29%) are the clear favorites.

Shoppers will also spend $2.5 billion on gift cards, $2.1 billion on clothing, $2.1 billion on consumer electronics, and $1.8 billion on personal services such as spa visits, massages, and manicures/pedicures. In addition, Americans will spend $956 million will be spent on housewares or gardening tools, $813 million on greeting cards, and $494 million on books or music.

Stick to a budget

While you want to show your love for your mother, set a responsible budget, and stick to it. There are ways to honor mom without going into debt to do it. If you can't afford a fancy brunch or jewelry, think of  ways to celebrate the day that involve more of your time, and less of you money, like making one of her favorite meals, or simply giving her some time to herself to relax. Most moms wouldn't want their children to make poor financial choices just to celebrate them.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Daniel B. Kline has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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