Dad still getting little respect

Jun 06, 2014

According to NRF’s 2014 Father’s Day Spending Survey, total spending on next weekend’s holiday is expected to reach $12.5 billion. That’s 37.2 percent lower than the $19.9 billion the trade agency estimated was spent on Mother’s Day.

In a similar vein, a survey from RetailMeNot, the coupon website aggregator, found that more people buy Mother’s Day gifts for mom than Father’s Day gifts for dad — 86 percent versus 77 percent, respectively.

In other findings from the RetailMeNot survey conducted by The Omnibus Company:

  • Almost three in five (58 percent) dads surveyed feel that they spend more money on their partners for Mother’s Day than their significant others typically spend on them for Father’s Day;
  • Nearly half (48 percent) of overall respondents believe they spend more on moms for Mother’s Day than on dads for Father’s Day;
  • Twenty percent of people admit they are more creative with gifts for their mom on Mother’s Day than their dad on Father’s Day.

"Our surveys have found that people feel indebted to mom because of everything she has done for us, and likely feel less of an obligation to please dad," Trae Bodge, senior editor RetailMeNot, told TheStreet.

Another challenge, Ms. Trae said, is that dad is harder to buy for, with kids and wives often resorting to uninspired gifts. In a similar survey from RetailMeNot from 2013, dad’s "do not gift" list included ties (32 percent), t-shirts with dad-related slogans (27 percent) and coffee mugs (19 percent).

A recent survey by a third-party tied to Omaha Steaks’ "T-Bones – Not Ties" advertising campaign likewise found that 86 percent of more than 1,000 dads preferred steak over a tie for Father’s Day.

At the top of dads’ Father’s Day wish lists on RetailMeNot’s survey were gift cards (17 percent) and quality time spent with family (17 percent).

The NRF survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, also showed for the third-straight year that the most popular gift for dad behind greeting cards is a special outing.

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement that with more people looking for "experience gifts" such as tickets to baseball games or a day on the golf course, retailers should "make sure to promote their gift cards for families hoping to create the perfect gift package."

Why do you think Father’s Day is so much smaller from a retail perspective than Mother’s Day? What can merchants do to drive greater sales?

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14 Comments on "Dad still getting little respect"

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Zel Bianco

Because we would all be in big trouble if we didn’t do the right thing on Mother’s Day. Dads are more casual about it. Retailers should offer gift cards with a special incentive like 25% more – $100 gift card that buys $125.

Dads may procrastinate using them, but generally would want to buy whatever they want instead of a tie they may never wear. Then again, it the gift cards are not redeemed, more profit for the retailer, correct?

Chris Petersen, PhD.

There are historical differences in child rearing which have created differences in children’s perceptions between mothers and fathers. However, if today’s trend is towards co-equal parenting, then there should be theoretically less difference between Mother’s and Father’s Day spending.

One big difference is that Mother’s Day comes before Memorial Day weekend, the first big U.S. “bank holiday” that kicks off summer. Kids are typically still in school and the family is in more of a normal routine. By Father’s Day in June, the kids are out of school and summer patterns kick in. Dad gets left in the dust as extra cash gets spent on camps, events and family vacations.

Frankly, the bigger reason is that merchants do far less marketing for Father’s Day. They also need to make it easier to buy for dad. As a father living near Omaha, I’m making sure that all my kids know about “T-bones … NOT ties.”

Max Goldberg

There’s not a lot of good news here for dads. Mr. Bodge said it all, “Our surveys have found that people feel indebted to mom because of everything she has done for us, and likely feel less of an obligation to please dad.” Most dads would probably like anything more than a tie and would probably be content knowing that they are appreciated by their families.

Kevin Graff

Hope my kids are reading this … and feeling a bit guilty! This isn’t really new news, but it’s still relevant. As to why it happens, I’ll leave that to the sociologists.

Retailers need to get a bit more creative with selling the “experience” of their gift ideas. There’s little to no experience attached to a tie (thank God!). That’s why golf stores will be jammed this weekend and next. And that’s why any retailer that can package fun, excitement, relaxation or nostalgia into their offering will be busy too.

Ben Ball

A quick Google of says 24% of children 0-17 live with mom only, and another 4% don’t live with either parent. Certainly that is not always dad’s choice or fault. But with dads missing 28% of the time, no wonder they get less respect and fewer gifts.

Li McClelland
Li McClelland
3 years 3 months ago

It’s the dads’ fault, really. They are just not as good at dropping hints and laying on the guilt as moms are! πŸ™‚

Gene Detroyer

Maybe because Fathers don’t care so much. Call me a Scrooge, but the perfect Father’s Day for me would be just like any other Sunday. I don’t want to have to go out to dinner, I don’t want a special dinner. I don’t want anyone wasting money on cards. Please don’t give me a gift. If there never was a Father’s Day it would be OK with me. I am sure I am not the majority, but I am also sure that more fathers feel this way than mothers on Mother’s Day.

Warren Thayer

Politically incorrect but fairly obvious answer: women seem to care more about holidays, anniversaries and birthdays than men do. Don’t know why, and it doesn’t make one or the other right or wrong. Men are probably more likely to just go out and buy something if they want it, and no guy I know has a “wish list,” unless they stop and think hard about it and even then, their true wishes are probably way too politically incorrect to post here. Makes it hard to buy for us, I know.

Ed Rosenbaum

Merchants can do a better job finding out what fathers prefer for gifts and market that. Sure, Mother’s day is more popular in many ways from gifts to meals. Mother’s expect gifts and a day off from cooking. Father’s expect little, e.g. ties and t-shirts; and that is what we get. LOL. My preference is to have to do very little, and enjoy a nice cookout with someone else doing the grilling.

Lee Peterson

Funny but not funny; the issue is: what the heck do I buy for dad? After a few years of golf stuff, razors, tool kits and shirts from Penney’s…you’re out of gas! (jk)

I think things will change with the next few generations, both from a consumption POV and a retailer’s perspective. Very fertile ground to tap into. For one, the “new” dad is much more active; biking, running, hiking…so many more opportunities for new gift ideas. I believe the “Dad” store is going to shift from D.I.Y. boxes to R.E.I.-like stores. To the point of the piece, retailers just need to re-think the new dad vs relying only on old dad ideas.

David Livingston
3 years 3 months ago

There are probably a lot more mothers around than fathers. If there is no dad in the household, he’s probably not going to get a gift. Then we have opposite side like in my family. When I was a kid, my dad paid for everything. Not just our family, but he supported a couple of sets of grandparents. He insisted we never buy him anything because he has everything. If we did go out on Father’s Day or on his birthday, he paid for it. Now I’m the same way. I’m really not going to ask or expect my struggling kids or low income girlfriends to buy me anything. I pick up the tab for everything and more. I expect there are a lot of dads out there like me.

Brian Numainville

I think Warren hit it right on target. Most of the time it seems that women pay far greater attention to holidays, anniversaries and other important dates while men (present company included) tend to not be as focused on those dates. And also right on the account that most of the men I know tend to by “what they want” and don’t have a list of must have items. So makes it much harder to buy for them thus the ties, mugs and other “blah” items.

Liz Crawford

To me, the real story is that total spending on fathers for Father’s Day is up from $9 billion in 2009, to $12.4 billion in 2014. That’s a huge increase in a short amount of time.

The reason for this, I believe, is that fathers are participating in childrearing in larger numbers – and to a greater degree – than in years past.

Mother’s Day has always been a big deal. The holiday was an acknowledgement of moms enormous role in raising children, as well as a specific “thank you” for this form of labor. But today, more women are working outside the home, and more men are helping with the kids. Therefore, men are getting more kudos from their families for being a bigger “part of.”

Larry Negrich

One factor that plays a part in Father’s Day being a less financially lucrative holiday for retailers than Mother’s day can be summed up with the saying (paraphrase) “Do what you did and you get what you got.” Retailers have never been aggressive with the holiday and the blip in sales is the annual result.

I’d like to see a comparison of retail marketing promotion spend around each holiday. Retailers should treat Father’s Day like Mother’s Day as far as promotion creativity, volume, and duration. I don’t think that Father’s Day sales volume will catch Mother’s Day anytime soon, but more marketing focus on the holiday would improve results.


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