Are consumers too “retail weary” to spend cash this Mother’s Day? Businesses weigh in

Giving a gift to a colleague

Australians are set to spend a gargantuan $733 million dollars on Mother’s Day this year, according to a survey by Australian comparison site Finder, but those stats pale in comparison to other holidays. 

According to the survey data, compiled from 2,085 participants, adult offspring will spend an average of $60 to celebrate their mums, in comparison to the average of $75 spent by Australians on Valentine’s Day.

The data also suggests that sons win the race to favouritism, spending an average of $66, compared to $55 by daughters.

New South Wales tops the spending on Mother’s Day, parting with $68 each on average, whereas Tasmanians will only spend an average of $36 each on their mums.

Surprisingly, the data also revealed that over a quarter of Australians don’t celebrate Mother’s Day, while eight avoid dipping into their bank accounts and spend Mother’s Day with their mothers or speaking on the phone with them.

Money Expert at Finder Bessie Hassan is also shocked that Valentine’s Day spending trumps Mother’s Day, but believes that the nature of mothers may hold the answer to the puzzle.

“Motherhood is a demanding — largely thankless job,” Hassan said in a statement.

“It’s unusual to see more emphasis on Valentine’s Day, but to some extent, wrong or right, mothers are often happy with less tangible tokens of appreciation,” she said.

So what does this mean for retail businesses? Can they expect a sales rush from those searching for gifts for mum, or are these special events no longer a solid bet for sales?

Co-chief executive of digital gift card app Prezzee Claire Morris the numbers suggesting that consumers are likely to spend more on Valentine’s Day than Mother’s Day surprise her, as the holiday continues to be one of the biggest on the calendar for her company.

Prezzee allows consumers to buy and send gift cards from a range of Australian retailers and store them in a digital wallet, an industry she suggests is worth $4.5 billion.

Morris says promotions in “key gift-giving periods” are a key to sustained success, and that these periods are “really healthy” for her business.

“Mother’s Day remains in the top two holiday periods for us,” Morris tells SmartCompany.

“Christmas remains our most successful time of year but Mother’s Day is easily second,” she says.

In contrast to Finder’s data that suggest men spend more on their mums than women do, Morris believes that her Mother’s Day sales are “slightly skewed to a female audience”.

“[It is] only 55%:45%. You have to think about who is buying for Mum,” she says.

On the other hand, founder of scarf business dog&boy, Sonya Michele, is not shocked by the survey’s findings, believing that consumers are becoming “retail weary” overall.

“[Consumers] sometimes think [Mother’s Day] is a bit of Hallmark holiday and look more towards individual holidays such as birthdays,” Michele tells SmartCompany.

“I would certainly think that spend is down for the year. You always expect sales to trend upwards, but for this spending period I would say they are about par with this time last year.”

With scarves not generally being on Valentine’s Day wish lists, by Michele’s own admission, the data suggesting Valentine’s Day is more important to spenders than Mother’s Day doesn’t surprise her.

“And that’s not to say that mums aren’t important!” she joked.

Mother’s Day will be celebrated on 13 May.

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