May 10, 2013

Spoiling mom on her special day

Average shopper will spend more than $168 this year, retail reports say

So, how do you think mom would look this year with an iPad or a pair of dangly hoop earrings?

Some shoppers looking to coddle their moms this Mother’s Day weekend apparently will find out, according to the latest retail reports.

Consumers are expected to spend an average of $168.94 on their mothers’ gifts Sunday, an 11 percent boost over last year’s number, according to the National Retail Federation’s BIGinsight survey.

While the $168.94 won’t pay for an iPad – minis start at $399 – total spending for Mother’s Day 2013 is expected to reach $20.7 billion nationally, the survey says. So many consumers will spring for an iPad, a smartphone or a nice piece of jewelry – or pool their money with other family members to make mom feel special.

“First, it’s the mobile phone,” said Mechelle Carey, Best Buy store manager in Lexington. “Mobile phones, especially with the S4 just coming out – women are really liking what we call pocketbook technology.”

Samsung’s Galaxy S4 is a smartphone out less than a month that offers its users a larger screen to make better use of the technology and builds on the S3 model, Carey said.

For those mothers who either aren’t ready to update their phones, cases are a popular choice, she said. “Cases have really come a long way,” Carey said, designed to make the iPhone and the Samsung models waterproof and dirt-proof, she said.

Digital cameras are always a hit with mothers, Carey said – the better to photograph their kids and grandkids.

“Of course, it is the year of the tablet, so I don’t see that going anywhere anytime soon,” said Carey, a mother of three. Moms tend to like the mini-iPad because they are less bulky and easy to carry around, she said, and they also like the Samsung Galaxy mini-pad, Carey said.

The highest percentage of shoppers in the BIGinsight survey’s history, 14.1 percent, will spend more than $2.3 billion on electronics this Mother’s Day, up from $1.6 billion last year, the survey said.

And there may be some method to the projected madness, survey officials said.

“Budgetary constraints will keep many families on the lookout for the perfect group gift, like a new tablet or smartphone, or even that cashmere sweater they know mom has had her eye on,” said Pam Goodfellow, BIGinsight consumer insights director, in a released statement about the retail outlook for the day.

Typically, men have constituted large portions of Best Buy’s customers this week, Carey said, which likely will continue through Sunday morning, she said.

However, jewelry also is hot this year. More than a third of shoppers will spend $4.2 billion on bling, according to the survey.

Bill Hrisko, owner of Unforgettable Fine Jewelry on Devine Street, said business has increased between 15 percent and 20 percent during the stretch leading up to Mother’s Day this year, compared to last year. But he said per ticket spending has stayed about the same, which means more people are shopping this year.

“Part of that is because graduation and Mother’s Day is this weekend,” he said. “The stars have kind of aligned.”

Consumers this year are spending about $50 to $150 on bracelets, necklaces, earrings and artisan pieces as “an added gift” in addition to dinner or flowers, a luxury many had not been able to afford in the depths of the recession, Hrisko said.

Some retail researchers expect a more traditional response from shoppers this Mother’s Day holiday, opting for brunches and dinner, rather than splurging on expensive electronics. Flowers, gift cards, clothing or clothing accessories and personal service gifts, such as spa treatments, also will be popular this year, the survey said.

“The women I’ve spoken to said they’ve told their husbands and kids and everybody, that what they would like would be to have a nice lunch out for Mother’s Day, maybe even dinner, but don’t worry about the other things,” said Britt Beemer, chairman and CEO of Charleston-based America’s Research Group.

“I look at Mother’s Day as really a time for more and more families to basically give the mother of the day a day off on Sunday,” Beemer said.

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