Father’s Day spending down nationwide, but up in Columbia, merchants say

06/13/2014 10:12 PM

06/13/2014 10:12 PM

Consumers nationwide are expected to spend a little less on their dads this year for Father’s Day Sunday. But shoppers in Columbia seem to be bucking the trend.

Columbia resident Tesa Griffin spent double what she would normally spend on her husband, Tommy, this year. She spent about $200 at Todd and Moore on Huger Street on a letterman’s jacket – complete with a block D, football and baseball patches and pins, and embroidered with his name – to replace one lost through the years.

“We stretched our budget a little this year to get something special,” she said.

Nationwide, consumers are expected to spend an average of $113.80 on their fathers this year, according to a National Retail Federation survey. That’s down 5 percent from the $119.84 they spent last year.

Still, spending on the holiday is expected to reach $12.5 billion. Clothes will be the most popular gifts, with 42 percent of consumers responding to the survey saying they would buy items ranging from neckties to sweaters.

Tommy Griffin also likely would have received shorts and summer shirts, too, if his wife had not hatched the plan last fall for the letterman’s jacket. The Griffins’ 16-year-old daughter, Kelsie, is a cheerleader at Dreher High School, where her father played 30 years earlier.

As Kelsie cheered last football season, Tommy Griffin “mentioned over and over and over, ‘Oh gosh, I wish I still had my letterman’s jacket,’” Tesa Griffin said. “This actually, I think, will be the most special, memorable gift that we’ve ever been able to give him.”

Shoppers also were spending more this week on gifts at Granger Owings on Main Street, proprietor Vaughn Granger said.

“Father’s Day is a pretty good holiday for us. But, this particular Father’s Day, we must be up 30 percent” over last year, he said.

The average ticket is just under $200, Granger said, with the most popular items including sports wear, ties and pocket squares.

Granger couldn’t put his finger on exactly why his shop has been busier. He has myriad theories, including: People have more disposable income or, perhaps, it is simply because there are more shoppers on a resurgent Main Street than there have been in decades.

“It just seems like it’s a little bit easier” to sell than it has been in recent years, he said.

Another factor that could be freeing up some Father’s Day spending money in the Midlands is the University of South Carolina baseball team’s failure to make it to the College World Series this year.

Fewer people are gearing up for a trip to Omaha since the Gamecocks won’t be competing this year in a place where they are accustomed to playing and winning.

Losing those sales has hurt some, said Beth McCrary, a spokeswoman for Todd and Moore. But, she added, “It hasn’t impacted it as much as we thought it might.”

Part of the reason could be that football season is right around the corner.

In addition to gift certificates, shoes and sports apparel, the store still is selling plenty of Gamecock gear, including a $70 special edition UnderArmour sideline polo shirt for football that is always released just in time for Father’s Day.

“Anything Gamecock is great for dad,” McCrary said.

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