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Father’s Day Spending Gap – Why Does Mother’s Day Always Win?

Altaf Shaikh | June 12, 2017 

When I discovered how much Father’s Day lags behind Mother’s Day in retail spending, I decided to put my marketing hat on and look into it. Personally, I don’t need a gift this Father’s Day. I already have three vibrant, smart, beautiful gifts in my daughters, and I’m pretty darn proud of it.

Father’s Day has been celebrated annually since 1972. Even though it has trailed behind Mother’s Day in sales every year, the National Retail Federation (NRF) has some good news. The NRF’s 2017 Father’s Day Survey projects spending this year will reach $15.5 billion, an all-time high in the survey’s 15-year history.

NRF Father's Day Spending Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics


While greeting card purchases top the list at 64%, almost half the shoppers surveyed will be giving Dad some kind of special outing this Father’s Day with clothing and gift cards coming in third and fourth. Retailers should note that 34% of consumers plan to do their shopping online.

Why the Huge Spending Disparity?

The NRF surveys show the spending gap between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in the billions of dollars each year. In 2016, Americans spent $21.4 billion on Mom vs. $14.3 billion for Dad. Why aren’t dads getting as much attention as moms?

According to a report by’s Money, some researchers speculate the difference may be due to mothers historically being the ones who manage most traditional households. The report also cites timing. Schools are getting out in May and the season is changing to warmer weather, facilitating more home and garden purchases. June, however, tends to be a busier and costlier time of year. High school and college graduations are aplenty. It’s the most popular month for weddings, and family vacations are in full swing.

Shoppers also tend to find it more challenging to buy for Dad. And retailers don’t carry as many selections for men as they do for women. I guess that’s why our closets tend to be overrun with neckties.

Marketers Take Note

The American family is changing and so is the role of fathers. According to the US Census Bureau, there were an estimated 70.1 million fathers across the United States in 2008 (the most recent year for which data was available).

Historically, more money has been spent on advertising to mothers than to fathers. Fathers have often been portrayed in the media as strong, emotionally distant heads-of-household figures (think Ward Cleaver). Later, fathers were portrayed as clueless and Mom often had to step in (Homer and Marge Simpson).

Fathers now are being portrayed more realistically as loving, devoted caregivers who are not afraid to get their hands dirty in daily parenting activities. During the 2015 Super Bowl, a new advertising trend called “Dadvertising” emerged. A perfect example of this is Cheerio’s commercial featuring a fun, with-it dad getting the kids ready for school in the morning.

Fatherly’s Dad 2.0 Summit has become a hub for North America’s largest dad-centric conference. The Summit focuses on the state of modern fatherhood and facilitates conversations between dads, marketers and the media. According to, movements like Dad 2.0 are shifting how major brands treat fathers. Says co-founder Doug French, “You just don’t see a lot of dippy dads on TV anymore.”

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Altaf Shaikh | Founder, CEO

Altaf Shaikh is the Founder and CEO of ListEngage. When people were still using dial up and the words ‘marketing’ and ‘automation’ were seldomly used together, Altaf became obsessed with finding and creating automated marketing solutions. Altaf’s background in Computer Science and Engineering made him re-think how he could use new and emerging digital technologies to engage people in unique and relevant ways with the right mix of brand, data and analytics. That passion led Altaf to become a marketing automation expert. Altaf started ListEngage in 2003 to help companies transform their digital marketing programs. Under Altaf’s leadership, ListEngage has grown to become a top-rated partner in the Salesforce ecosystem, has served 3000+ customers and earned multiple awards, such as: ExactTarget Global Services Award, the Inc. 5000 award three consecutive years, the Boston Business Journal's FAST 50 two years in a row and the Top 20 Salesforce Provider award by CIO magazine. Altaf and the ListEngage team love bringing their years of hard work, expertise, certification and acquired “superpowers” to help customers maximize their investment in Salesforce. Contact Altaf at