How much will people spend for a Mother's Day gift?

Mother's Day is the second-biggest holiday in terms of consumer spending and this year Americans are expected to spend between $18 billion and $19.8 billion to show mom how much they care, according to two new surveys. That will be either $500 million more or $800 million less than was spent on Mother's Day last year, depending on which report you believe.

The usually more optimistic report from the National Retail Federation says Mother's Day spending will be down from last year's total of $20.6 billion, while market research firm IBISWorld says the total will be up from 2013's $17.5 billion total.

The retail group says most moms should expect the traditional gifts of a card, offered by 81.3 percent, flowers (66.6 percent) or a nice meal out (56.5 percent). Overall the report says we're feeling a little less flush than last year and will be spending an average $163 on gifts, down $5 from 2013.

In terms of dollars spent, dinner or brunch leads all categories of gifts, with an average individual spend of $55, according to the NRF. That's an increase of about $3.5 from last year, making it the only gift category to see a significant increase. Although only 31.7 percent of us are expected to give mom some jewelry, it's still second on the list, with an average individual purchase of $94, down $6 from last year.

Spending on flowers and greeting cards are also both up slightly. We're going to spend an average of about $30 on flowers and $7.90 for cards.

The contrarian IBISWorld report predicts that more will be spent in every category except cards and housewares/gardening this year. It attributes this expected increase in Mother's Day spending to a "substantial improvement in disposable income."

IBISWorld doesn't cite a source for this forecast. Both the Federal Reserve and the Department of Commerce say disposable income in the U.S. has been essentially flat for the past two years.

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    Constantine von Hoffman is a freelance writer and writing coach. His work has appeared in outlets such as Harvard Business Review, NPR, Sierra magazine, Brandweek, CIO, The Boston Herald,, CSO, and Boston Magazine.



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