What dads get on Father's Day: A lot less than moms

Sorry dads -- moms come first in the hearts of consumers. It's not even a close call.

Father's Day spending is forecast to reach $15.3 billion this year, according to the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. While that's just a tick below 2017's record of$15.5 billion -- it's dwarfed by the $23.1 billion consumers were expected to shell out on Mother's Day this year.

The findings -- from two separate surveys of more than 7,000 consumers each -- show that 77 percent of Americans plan to celebrate Father's Day, and 86 percent planned to celebrate Mother's Day. Average spending on dads is expected to be $133, well off the $180 people said they spent to honor moms. 

What's going on? Apparently, several things. According to data from the Census Bureau, the percentage of children living only with their mothers tripled between 1960 and 2016. No wonder that a separate survey by LendEdu found that 24.2 percent of respondents said Mother's Day was more important than Father's Day. Only 1.8 percent held the opposite view. And more than 13 percent favored eliminating the day for dads, while 8.8 percent wanted to abolish Mother's Day.

Gifts for moms such as jewelry ($4.6 billion in estimated spending) and flowers ($2.6 billion) and on spa days and other personal services ($1.8 billion) also can be pricier than typical options for dads, such as sporting and other events ($3.2 billion), clothing ($2.2 billion) and gift cards ($2.1 billion), the NRF said.

Of course, people can lavish attention on dad if money is no object. For instance, the father who has everything probably doesn't have the Hot Tub Boat, available from Hammacher Schlemmer for $42,000. Or he may enjoy a three-day auto racing course "providing the knowledge to take your racing skills to the next level" (starting at $3,995).  

If he enjoys scotch, maybe a Glenfiddich 1973 cask 7585 ($6,000 a bottle) will hit the spot. Liquor.com describes it as an "exquisite malt" limited to between 130 and 140 bottles. And don't forget, prime seats for the 2019 Super Bowl in the Lower Level Sideline Club at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium are available for $9,570, according to Vivid Seats.

No matter -- for many men, being a parent is the toughest job they'll ever have, and one they wouldn't trade for anything.

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    Jonathan Berr is an award-winning journalist and podcaster based in New Jersey whose main focus is on business and economic issues.