Mother’s Day is officially the second Sunday in May in both Canada and the United States. Two recent consumer surveys, one in Canada and one in the U.S., both show men spend more on Mother’s Day gifts than women do. The evidence suggests, however, that it is more a matter or how the sexes are wired than it is a barometer of maternal love.
Spending second only to Christmas
According to the Windsor Star, Mother’s Day weekend generates more retail income than any other holiday except for Christmas in both North American nations. U.S. consumers will spend $18.6 billion on mothers this year, estimates the National Retail Federation. But in both nations, men will fork out the bulk of retail income.
Two studies/nations agree
A recent study by the Bank of Montreal (BMO) found that Canadian men spend an average of $105.02 on Mother’s Day gifts. Women, on the other hand, will spend, on average, $61.99.
A separate poll in the U.S., conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF), estimated women will spend $117.42 on mothers, as contrasted by the $189.74 spent by the average male gift-shopper.
‘The preferable parent’
Logically, much of that difference may be because many men are obligated to buy gifts for the mother who bore them as well as the mother of their children. However, according to the NRF poll, only 22 percent of men shopping for gifts were buying for their baby mamas.
Norman Bates famously said, “A boy’s best friend is his mother.” That relationship didn’t work out for the best, but there may be something to the sentiment.
Michael R. Cunningham, a professor at the University of Louisville and past president of the International Association for Relationship Research, said:
“In general, the finding has been that men have a more positive relationship with their mother — and a less conflicted relationship — than they do with their father. Mom is seen as the preferable parent. Women have good relationships with mom, too, but there’s often more conflict than what’s seen with men. Boys fight with dad; girls fight with mom.”
Spending easier for men
Men still, as a rule, make more money than their female counterparts. Spending may be easier for them for psychological as well as practical reasons. At any rate, their outspending of women is not solely relegated to Mother’s day.
“Men tend to have their wallets out less often. But when they do, it’s for big purchases. So there’s a different expectation about what to spend.”
Women more cautious shoppers
The BMO study suggests, however, that these differences may be more about the difference in how the sexes operate than as any indication of who expresses the most affection.
The BMO survey pointed out that women, as a rule, plan their spending more and hunt down more sales and bargains.
Jennifer Weisman, marketing director for BMO, said:
“Previous research we’ve done on shopping and budgeting behavior suggests women are more practical planners.”
Women also may put more thought and personal energy into the occasion than men. They more often make personal gifts that have great sentimental meaning attached to them.
Also, according to the BMO, women are three times more likely to make a personal call to their mothers on the holiday than men.