On average, spending on Mother’s Day festivities more than doubled that of Father’s Day. This should come as little surprise given the National Retail Federation (NRF) annual survey, which highlights the spending gap between Mother’s Day gifts and Father’s Day gifts.
And while the conclusion of this study matched that of the NRF, our analyses differed significantly. Rather than consumer surveys, we analyzed actual spending observed on the two holidays. Thus, you will see results focused heavily on restaurants, last-minute gifts, and specialty services and activities.
Below is a chart of the top 10 non-restaurant categories:
With the exception of Farmers Markets, there were no real surprises about the composition of the top 10 merchant sub-categories. At an average revenue increase of 197%, Flower and Gift shops were far and away the busiest, with Candy and Dessert Shops (75%) and Jewelry Stores (50%) completing the trifecta of cliche last-minute offerings. By comparison, Valentine’s Day this year saw 275% gains for flowers, 168% for candy, and 102% for jewelry.
What we did find surprising was that Day Spas, Massage Parlors, and Salons did not perform as well as expected. While still top-10 performers, these merchants were expected to see revenue gains exceeding 50%. Our hypothesis is likely that these businesses were indeed busy, but that a large percentage of services were paid using gift certificates (where revenue is booked at the time of certificate purchase).
Perhaps just as interesting is a look into where money wasn’t spent. Below is the bottom ten performers in the non-restaurant category.
Eight of the 10 worst performing business types were sub-categories more frequently associated with men. As the saying goes, “Happy wife, happy life,” and it looks like America’s men knew where to avoid on Mother’s Day.
Below is a chart of the top 5 non-restaurant categories on Father’s Day
Predicting what would comprise the top Father’s Day categories was far more difficult than for their maternal counterparts. The two categories that nearly doubled their expected sales – Hunting and Fishing Stores (94% increase) and Guns and Ammo Shops (91% increase) – are highly influenced by geographic region.
At 34% increase, Golf Courses were the next sub-category most improved by Father’s Day. Like spas on Mother’s Day, this figure seems lower than we originally expected. However, given that 1) courses are already fairly busy in the summer, and 2) courses have finite tee times (thereby limiting how much excess demand they can serve), it makes sense that golf courses didn’t outperform other sub-categories as much as we had expected.
Theme parks (which are highly influenced by the start of summer, irrespective of it being a holiday) and Sporting Goods Stores were the only other sub-categories that saw significant increases on Father’s Day.
Meanwhile, below are the bottom 10 sub-categories:
Mirroring what we saw for Mother’s Day, the majority of poorly performing sub-categories were those typically associated with the opposite sex. Furthermore, Flower and Gift Shops were the runaway losers on Father’s Day. Apparently nothing says “I love you, Dad” like not buying flowers.
Seeing gender normatives and stereotypes play out is obviously fun, but what we found most interesting was the underlying implications of these spending behaviors.
Amongst the top-10 sub-categories on Mother’s Day were:
- Hair Salons
- Massage Parlors
- Day Spas
- Nail Salons
- Yoga and Pilates Centers
While one could argue that getting nails or hair done could be mother-daughter activities, these are generally activities done in isolation. Mother’s Day often means a few hours of solace from the hecticness of everyday life. In fact, a recent survey found that 71% of mothers wanted some “me time” to celebrate their special day. These results confirm this sentiment.
This stands in stark contrast to the Zagat survey that found that 52% of dads just wanted to stay at home and relax with the family. Our analysis confirmed this sentiment as well, with Golf Courses being the only sub-category to see significant revenue gains on Father’s Day. In fact, when looking just beyond the bottom-10 for Father’s Day, we saw sub-categories like Sports and Activity Places (-10%), Bowling Alleys (-10%), and Pool Halls (-8%) – all activities more typically associated with men being away from the family – all seeing revenue suffer on Father’s Day.
Up Next: Part 2 of our Mother’s Day vs Father’s Day analysis takes a look at Americans’ spending behavior at Restaurants.
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