Father’s Day 2019: Spending Rebounds, but Fathers Still Don't Get as Much Love as Mothers

Spending on Father’s Day gifts is expected to reach a record high of $16.0 billion this year, according to a May 2019 report by the National Retail Federation (NRF). But that doesn’t mean fathers should be expecting anything glamorous—greeting cards are still the most popular type of gift that consumers plan to purchase.

After a slight dip in 2018, Father’s Day spending growth is expected to rebound this year to about 4.6%, according to NRF. But this year’s increase won’t be as strong when compared with 2016 and 2017, which saw year-over-year growth of 12.5% and 8.4%, respectively.

Despite consumers’ willingness to spend more money on fathers this year, the most common items they planned to purchase was greeting cards (61.7%) surpassing other popular—and presumably more expensive—choices like special outings (46.8%), clothing (46%) and gift cards (43%). However, given that respondents picked multiple gift items, some fathers will probably receive a greeting card on top of a pricier purchase.

Last-minute shopping, and the desire to browse in-person tend to bring holiday shoppers to stores, as opposed to online. The majority of US internet users planned to purchase Father's Day gifts at a department store this year, per NRF's survey. While 34% planned to shop online, almost a quarter of respondents said they would shop at discount stores (24%) and specialty stores (23%).

The NRF research echoes data from location-based marketing firm GroundTruth, which reported an increase in foot traffic of more than 10% at Macy’s (13%), JCPenney (11%), Sears (11%) and Lord & Taylor (11%) in the week leading up to Father’s Day last year.

Electronics shopping, which the NRF categorizes as a specialty store, also saw a significant bump in foot traffic last year, GroundTruth found. In the week before Father’s Day, visits to the Microsoft Store were up 20%, while Best Buy Mobile (18%), Best Buy (13%), the Apple Store (13%) and GameStop (12%) also saw increased foot traffic.

Despite this, spending on Mother’s Day always exceeds the cumulative gift purchases for Father’s Day, according to historical data from the NRF. In April 2019, the NRF predicted that spending on Mother’s Day gifts would reach $25 billion—56.3% more than Father’s Day.

Consumers aren’t just spending less on fathers, as some are skipping out entirely. A survey of US internet users conducted by SmartCommerce found that 30.9% don’t plan to buy a gift for their father this Father’s Day, compared with just 15.1% who skipped out on purchasing Mother’s Day gifts.