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On Sunday, May 13, most Americans will celebrate the extraordinary woman in their lives — Mom — with a perfect outing and a gift or two. While mothers certainly look forward to the annual pampering, retailers anticipate the holiday even more. That’s because the money spent on meals, cards, flowers, jewelry, and other presents add up to billions of dollars, making Mother’s Day the third largest retail holiday in the U.S., behind only the winter holidays and back-to-school season. Even better? The spending keeps increasing year after year.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics estimate that the 86% of Americans who will celebrate the holiday in 2018 will fork out an astounding $23.1 billion, or an average of $180 per person, to appreciate their mothers. The expected spending is among the highest since the survey began 15 years ago and second only to the record $23.6 billion that consumers expended in 2017.
“This year’s Mother’s Day forecast is one of the strongest we’ve ever seen,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “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."
Not surprisingly, jewelry tops the list with a $4.6 billion expected spend, while outings like brunch or dinner come in at a close second at $4.4 billion. An impressive $2.6 billion will go towards buying flowers and another $2.5 billion will be spent on gift cards. Other purchases include greeting cards ($2.5 billion), clothing ($2.1 billion), consumer electronics ($2.1 billion), and personal services such as a spa day ($1.8 billion). Housewares, gardening tools, books and music round up the list with $1.5 billion.
Though motherhood has been celebrated across the world in some form for centuries, the official US holiday is primarily due to the hard work of Ann Jarvis. The Philadelphia teacher came up with the idea in 1905 to honor the sacrifices moms make for their families. The inaugural celebration, held in 1908 at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia, was such a success that Jarvis became determined to see the holiday added to the national calendar.
To accomplish her goal, the activist started a nationwide writing campaign to newspapers and lawmakers about the importance of a special day to honor mothers. While many states, towns, and churches had adopted the holiday by 1912, it took another two years before President Woodrow Wilson officially designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
However, Jarvis’s vision of the celebration, which involved wearing a white carnation and visiting one’s mother or attending a church service, never fully materialized. Once the holiday became official, it was not long before retailers seized the opportunity to market their wares. Thoroughly disillusioned, she spent years speaking out, and even filing lawsuits, against the “profiteers.” By the time she died in 1948, Jarvis had disowned the holiday she had fought so hard to get altogether.
While Mother’s Day has since become increasingly commercial, most moms would choose spending quality time with their families and a getting break from daily chores over expensive store-bought purchases. So on May 13, do something thoughtful like making breakfast or doing laundry, and more importantly, set aside your devices and give your mom the undivided attention she deserves!