A lot. In the US, Mother’s Day is the third biggest holiday spend, topped only by Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
Whether you’re a hardened cynic or a big softy who thinks your Mum is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, most retailers are going to make money from the Mother’s Day juggernaut in 2022.
The old adage that “life doesn’t come with a manual; it comes with a mother” holds true for many. And they appear to back that adage on Mother’s Day.
Following the milestones of Christmas, back-to-school and Valentine’s Day, the celebration of mothers is now an annual retail event. This year Mother’s Day falls on Sunday 8 May in the United States (US) and on 27 March in the UK.
Let’s weigh up just how commercialised Mother’s Day has become by looking at some of last years numbers. Even if the numbers have remained stable, or even dropped a bit, if 2021’s figures are anything to go by, people will continue to dip into their pockets this 2022 Mother’s Day.
Last year the US floristry industry garnered a whopping US$ 1.9 billion from flowers alone but even more staggering is the US$ 671 million on Mother’s Day cards.
But just how much revenue does Mother’s Day generate in the US? This figure has increased considerably since 2003, with consumers spending an extra $ 13.5 billion on loved ones compared to 2010, when the spend reached around $14.6 billion.
The US National Retail Federation (NRF) has gathered data in its annual Mother’s Day survey since 2003 to track how Americans celebrate mothers each spring. The findings include:
- 84% of consumers plan to celebrate Mother’s Day this year
- Shoppers plan to spend $220.48 on average, $16 more than they planned to spend in 2020 (the peak of Covid-19 lockdowns).
- Categories like jewellery and electronics were reaching record levels of spending in 2021.
Interestingly, the NRF found fewer Americans were willing, or planning, to celebrate Father’s Day. Americans also spent more on Mum on Mother’s Day.
Did you know? More phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year. These holiday catch-ups with Mum often cause phone traffic to spike by as much as 37%.
Shift To Online Shopping
It’s a no brainer that online shopping was the most “preferred” shopping destination in 2021 with Covid-19-associated restrictions in place. Thirty-nine percent of shoppers made their purchases online. Large stores came in at 29% and discount stores at 28%. And of note, speciality stores and local small businesses came in the top five options for the first time, signalling a change in mindset towards buying local and supporting small businesses.
How Much Is Mum Worth?
It’s estimated that there are over 2.2 billion mothers in the global population, with approximately 85 million mothers living in the United States. Around 53% of the female population of the US are mothers. 81% of US women become mothers by the age of 44 as of 2010.
In the US, 27 million mothers use Facebook accounts. According to Motherly’s State of Motherhood survey, 93% of American mothers report feeling burned out in some way. Reflecting this, 45% of mothers identify themselves as the primary carers of the children in their family.
So mums are worth a lot right? They deserve at least one day of pampering,
Tracking The Numbers
The data tells us that Americans planned to spend $28.1 billion on Mother’s Day in 2021. This is an increase of $1.4 billion compared to 2020, the first year of the pandemic. Bet your bottom dollar the increase for 2022 will match $1.4 billion and may even top it. These kinds of patterns and trends can be seen by looking back over the last decade.
In 2012, the US Mother’s Day spend was $18.6 billion. 2013 ($20.7 billion), 2014 ($19.9 billion), 2015 ($21.2 billion), 2016 ($21.4 billion), 2017 ($23.6 billion), 2018 ($23.1 billion), 2019 ($25 billion), 2020 ($26.7 billion) and 2021 ($28.1 billion).
The three most popular Mother’s Day gifts in 2021 were greetings cards, flowers, and special gatherings such as going out for dinner.
Here’s a breakdown of the top ten categories for Mother’s Day in 2021.
Greetings cards hold the top spot with 72% for Mother’s Day spending, next up is flowers at 68%. Third place goes to special gatherings such as going out for a meal at 49%. Gift card amount to 47%, clothing and accessories (40%), jewellery (35%), homeware (26%) and personal services such as beauty treatments (25%).
So yes, Mother’s Day is good business.
While we don’t want to be the bearer of bad tidings, days such as Mother’s Day come with a cost to the environment.
Let’s look at the flower industry in another way.
The Cut Flower Industry
Mother’s Day is one of the most important annual holidays for the flower industry. Mother’s Day is the third-most lucrative holiday for florists across the US. Mother’s Day accounts for 26% of all holiday transactions at florist shops and 24% of the dollar volume for all holidays.
In 2019, Colombia grew the vast majority of America’s cut flower imports, accounting for nearly $790 million of the market. Ecuador was next at $266.5 million, while interestingly, Holland was fourth with a value of $78 million.
Environmentally here the rub, see. Flying flowers across the world and transporting them in refrigerated trucks generates a large amount of emissions which translates into a whopping carbon footprint.
One doesn’t have to be a militant greeny but the following figures may just push you a notch or two along the spectrum.
Cost To The Environment
- About 5.6 billion cut flower stems are sold in the US annually. Close to 80% of these stems are imported from other countries, which involves air freight flights that impact negatively on the environment. Of the imported stems, 93% come from Colombia or Ecuador.
- Some studies have estimated that shipping 100 million roses from foreign countries to florists in America generates up to 9 000 metric tons of CO2 emissions.
- Every year, nearly 1.3 billion greetings cards are posted in the US, including any cards sent for Mother’s Day. These cards generate as much CO2 as charging over 20 billion smartphones or the annual energy costs of 22 000 houses.
- A 2014 study by the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom found that a single greetings card can produce a carbon footprint totalling up to 140 grams of carbon dioxide. Put another way, a standard greetings card rarely weighs more than 30 grams. So each card generates almost three times its weight in carbon emissions.
- During transit, cut flowers sold for Mother’s Day are typically delivered in refrigerated trucks to keep them fresh. On top of the pollution generated by the flights, refrigerated trucks use 25% more fuel than non-refrigerated trucks.
- It’s estimated that the global florist industry produces 100 000 tons of waste plastic every year. This often comes in the form of cellophane wrap and other packaging for flowers.
- During the peak season that spans Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, the environmental impact of flowers is staggering. Data from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) shows that flying 4 billion flowers from Colombia to the US produces around 360 000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The fuel burned during these freight flights equates to approximately 114 million litres.
On A Lighter Note
There is no doubt that mothers, guardians and foster mothers are special and most hold a special place in the hearts of their children – even into adulthood.
Yes, it’s good to think about the environment and planetary health but nothing beats a day of damn fine pampering – for both the giver and receiver. Nicer human beings are also good for the planet in our view.
Do take care of yourself if you are a mother or someone’s guardian this Mother’s Day and enjoy whatever gifts are bestowed on you – because you’re giving the biggest gift of all!