published Saturday, June 18th, 2011

Father’s Day spikes retail activity, but less than for moms’ day

Brad Newman replaces a Father's Day card Friday. Shoppers at Barbara's Hallmark Store browsed the selection of Father's Day cards on Friday afternoon.
Brad Newman replaces a Father's Day card Friday. Shoppers at Barbara's Hallmark Store browsed the selection of Father's Day cards on Friday afternoon.
Photo by Jake Daniels.

Parents may try not to play favorites, but that seems to be the name of the game for kids when it comes to holiday spending.

As Father’s Day approaches Sunday, the average person is expected to spend only about three quarters of what would be spent on mom, according to the National Retail Federation.

“It’s really hard for me to find something,” said 21-year-old Brandi Johnson as she shopped Hamilton Place mall for a gift. “He has everything in the world.”

Whether he’s too hard to shop for, says he doesn’t want gifts or whether because retailers don’t advertise as heavily as they do for Mother’s Day, dad tends to be a bit neglected.

But in Chattanooga, there may be more to explain the parent’s day disparities than disdain for dad.

“Chattanooga’s kind of a different town. You’ve got Riverbend to fight with,” said Mitch Wilkerson, a suit salesman at Dillard’s. “I’ve been selling clothes in Chattanooga for 20-something years. It’s something I’ve dealt with the whole time.”

Still, the average consumer is expected to spend about $106 this year, up from $94 in 2010, making Father’s Day a big retail holiday.

“Next to Christmas it’s our biggest time of the year,” said Scott Emmert, assistant manager at Barnes & Noble.

Emmert said sales go up and stay up around the beginning of June, with increased numbers staying strong past Father’s day as dads redeem gift cards.

“It’s always hard to find a gift for dad. People don’t know what to get, so a lot of times they get books or gift certificates,” he said. “Get him a gift card and he’ll pick out his own book.”

Most consumers are expected to gravitate towards the old Father’s Day standards. Of the $11.1 billion of estimated holiday-related spending, about $1.4 billion will go to home and gardening gear and clothes while $1.3 billion will snap up electronics.

“It brings people into the mall, and if people are in the mall you’re selling,” said Malcolm McGehee, a Verizon salesman. “It just brings them out.”

Although dads are traditionally more of technophiles than moms, McGehee said he still sells more phones for Mother’s Day.

“Mother’s Day is a little more gifty,” he said. “It just seems like you buy more stuff for mom.”

But while women buy gadgets, dad tends to pick up a more traditionally mother-friendly gift — candy.

“It’s probably better because most of the wives buy for Father’s Day,” said Dee Aslinger, manager of the mall’s Candy Craze. “The mom’s do a lot of shopping.”

On the holiday weekend, Candy Craze’s sales shoot up about 40 percent — dads seem to like jelly beans — compared to a just-under 30 percent increase around Mother’s Day, when chocolate is a popular item.

Nevertheless, traditional father favorites consistently sell well.

“Our numbers storewide are doing well,” said David Jennings in the golf department at Dick’s Sporting Goods on Gunbarrel Roasd.

Sports equipment accounts for about $653 million of the holiday’s sales, and Jennings said the weeks leading up to Fathers Day are hectic.

“It’s kind of like Black Friday door buster kind of stuff,” he said. “It’s as busy as we get.”

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