Free Enterprise Staff  | June 19, 2015

Father’s Day Has a Big Economic Impact—But Data Suggests We Love Our Mothers More

If you haven’t done so already, time is running out to buy a Father’s Day gift for the dads in your life. If you’re going the store-bought route, how much are you planning on doling out for the man who helped raise you? Though you might not have thought about it before, Father’s Day actually packs a powerful economic punch.

When you dissect the numbers, it’s hardly surprising to learn that retailers look forward to Father’s Day every year. According to the Census Bureau, there are more than 70 million dads in the United States; of that total, roughly 25 million are part of married-couple families who had children younger than 18 years old.

All those children—and, to be fair, the many wives, mothers, and sisters who will purchase gifts and sign their kids’ names to their Father’s Day cards—are expected to spend a lot of money this year on their fathers. The National Retail Federation estimates that total Father’s Day spending in 2015 will reach $12.7 billion.

On a more granular level, that breaks down to about $116 for the average person, a figure that’s essentially unchanged from 2014. The NRF survey found, moreover, that three out of every four Americans plan to celebrate Father’s Day this year. The most popular gifts this year? That would be the tried and true shirt and tie, which 40% of Americans said they would purchase for the national holiday.

Yet also ranking high are so-called ‘experience gifts.’ A little more than 43% of NRF survey respondents said they planned to spend a collective $2.6 billion on everything from vacations to tickets to sporting events. Not to be forgotten, electronic gadgets are also at the forefront of many gift givers’ minds, according to NRF data. The organization anticipates one-fifth of all Father’s Day shoppers will drop $1.6 billion on Apple Watches, smartphones, Fit Bits, and other popular devices.

While $13 billion is by no means an insubstantial number, it is worth noting that overall spending this Father’s Day won’t come near the amount of money consumers will shell out for their moms: According to an NRF poll from earlier this year, Mother’s Day spending was projected to hit $21 billion in 2015, with the average gift clocking in at more than $172—approximately 65% and 48% higher, respectively, than the corresponding Father’s Day figures.