Father’s Day: The Holiday That Gets No Respect?

According to the National Retail Federation, the day honoring dads doesn't inspire major consumer spending. Mother's Day is a different story.

If he’s lucky, Dad will get a greeting card to honor him this Sunday.

But that’s no sure thing, according to the National Retail Federation. Even though the holiday will drive an estimated $12.5 billion in spending this year, NRF says, that’s a far cry from the estimated $19.9 billion that consumers spent on  Mother’s Day last month.

In general, consumers spend more on Mom (an average of $163 in 2014) than they do on Dad (an average of $113.80 this year). So what gives? According to NRF’s Kathy Grannis, people have a much different mindset about the two holidays.

“The types of gifts people typically buy Mom tend to cost a little more, and Dad even admits that he doesn’t like all the fuss anyway,” she writes on the organization’s website.

Speaking to, retail consultant Robert Passikoff put it another way: “It’s just harder to buy for men.”

What Dad Gets

According to NRF research, if a father gets anything on his holiday, it’ll most likely be a card. About 64 percent of respondents were likely to choose this option. For Mother’s Day, 81 percent purchased cards.

But dads won’t necessarily walk away empty-handed: 41.5 percent of consumers will buy neckties or other kinds of apparel, and 42.6 percent will take a father to dinner, a sporting event, or some other outing.

NRF points out that the thought behind the gift is ultimately what matters most.

“Knowing both cost and sentiment are important to their shoppers, retailers this Father’s Day will make sure to offer promotions on a variety of gift options, including home-improvement items, tools, and even apparel,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “As more people look for ‘experience gifts’ with tickets to baseball games or a day on the golf course, retailers will also make sure to promote their gift cards for families hoping to create the perfect gift package.”

While Father’s Day is lower on the spending totem pole than Mother’s Day, it’s not the smallest major holiday by dollars spent, and Mom’s holiday isn’t the overall spending leader, according to NRF data. The winter holidays drove more than $600 billion in spending last year, dwarfing all other categories. Mother’s Day ranked in a distant third place, behind back-to-school gift giving.

Bringing up the rear? St. Patrick’s Day. Must not be enough green beer to go around.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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