Although it may be hard to believe, Mother’s Day was never meant to be a commercial bonanza. The holiday was officially recognized by Congress in 1914 to honor working mothers. But today, it only ranks behind Christmas in terms of retail sales.
Given the shaky economy, the May 13 holiday couldn’t arrive a moment too soon. Seventy-three percent small business Owners are counting on Mother’s Day sales to exceed last year’s, according to a new survey by Constant Contact, an e-mail marketing service.
Not surprisingly, 83 percent of those polled said Mother’s Day is important to their yearly earnings, up from 76 percent last year. That could be because retail sales so far this year have been lackluster. The Commerce Department was expected to report today that sales in March, the latest figures available, rose 0.5 percent, down slightly from a 0.6 percent gain in February.
Rising gasoline prices and the sagging real estate market have put a crimp in disposable income and consumers’ mood, but on the positive side, economists note that the unemployment rate is at a five-year low and wages are rising.
Mother’s Day now has a bigger effect on sales than Valentine’s Day, Easter, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, Halloween, Labor Day, and St. Patrick’s Day, according to small business retailers survyed. Big winners are restaurants, day spas, florists, and gift shops.