Bunch of flowers, gift and dedication card resting on a lawn for Mother's Day

Here’s What The Average American Will Spend On Mother’s Day This Year

Spending on mom will hit a new record this year... but maybe it doesn’t have to.

Mother’s Day is approaching and if you’re planning to get your mom (or stepmom, or wife) a gift then you’re certainly not alone. The holiday is big business. Here’s what Americans are estimated to spend this Mother’s Day, May 14, 2023.

Mother’s Day spending will top $35.7 billion.

That’s according to an annual survey conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF), which has been tracking this data since 2003. That’s an average of about $274.02 per person among those planning to celebrate. Ironically, though spending has generally increased year over year (the biggest increase took place between last year, $31.7 billion and this) overall participation in the holiday is slightly down to 84% from a high of 86% last seen in 2020. And while any number that ends in that many zeroes is a lot of money, Mother’s Day spending pales in comparison to Christmas shopping, which the NRF estimated to be upwards of $950 billion in 2022.

Millennials will spend the most.

For all the talk of Millennials “killing” various industries over the years (napkins, diamonds, cereal) the 35 to 44 age bracket will spend the most on Mother’s Day — approximately $382.26 per person. We’re going to go ahead and guess that that’s because Millennials are the generation most likely to have both a mom and a partner who is also a mother. Indeed, according to the NRF, 57% of Mother’s Day spending will be for a mom or step-mom, but a respectable 23% is spent on a wife. (And, sweetly, 12% is spent on children, which is a cute thing for parents to do for their children who have had kids.)

Florists and greeting cards aren’t the only winners.

So what are people buying? The answer will likely not be terribly surprising, though the answer changes depending on how you measure. In terms of what people will be buying the most of, flowers, greeting cards, and special outings, like brunch, were the big winners. However, in terms of actual dollars spent, jewelry, special outings, and electronics were account for the majority of spending.

National Retail Federation

The “founder of Mother’s Day” would not be pleased.

Although holidays and festivals celebrating motherhood have appeared throughout history, the celebration of Mother’s Day as we now know it started in the early 1900s through the efforts of Anna Jarvis. Jarvis was a devoted daughter and when her mother died in 1905, she was devastated. Three years later, Jarvis organized a memorial service in her honor held simultaneously at a church in West Virginia and Wannamaker’s department store in Philadelphia, where she lived. Jarvis spoke at the latter and sent 500 white carnations and a telegram to the former, urging attendants to meditate on the significance of a day set aside to honor their mothers. From there, she embarked on an ambitious letter-writing campaign, advocating the adoption of Mother’s Day to newspapers and politicians. (It didn’t hurt that the floral industry backed her crusade, either.) In 1914, her efforts paid off when President Woodrow Wilson officially designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

But before long, Jarvis came to resent what the holiday became. Her objections appear to have been two-fold. For one, she resented the commercialism. She had always wanted the holiday “to be a day of sentiment, not profit.” Secondly, she seemed to have a real bee in her bonnet over the fact that she, personally, was not getting the credit she felt she deserved and became quite litigious about other people co-opting the holiday, no matter the reason. She was even arrested for crashing the 1925 American War Mothers convention (the organization sold carnations for Mother’s Day).

Here’s what moms really want...

While gifts and brunches and flowers are all well and good (you’ll never see me turning down any of those things, especially not from my loved ones), it seems that to give mom what she really wants won’t require hundreds of dollars. An informal survey conducted by Parents magazine found that of the top three things moms said they wanted for Mother’s Day, two won’t cost a thing! The most common answers were sleep (30%), alone time (30%) and then trailing behind was a spa day or massage (11%). Another survey from Moonpig and LEGO found similar results: alone time/free time was the hands down winner with 58% of moms wishing for more time for themselves.

So this Mother’s Day, just remember, the greatest gift of all is the gift of leaving mom alone and not asking her to do anything... and, just a thought, maybe clean the house while you’re at it.