The second Sunday in May is Mother’s Day. This year, the day on which moms across America can look forward to some special loving attention from their spouse and children is May 8. Oh, and there might be a present or two involved. For moms with an interest in statistics: your loved ones plan to spend an average of $172.22 on you this Mother’s Day – down 41 cents from last year’s record high. According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, with 84.4% of American consumers set to celebrate the holiday, that will add up to a total nationwide spend of $21.4 billion.

Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day

Moms can do many amazing things. One of them is acting surprised as they unwrap your present. Because you’re a bit predictable, America. Judging by dollars spent, jewellery is the favorite gift for Mother’s Day. With a total of $4.2 billion, almost 20% of the nationwide total goes towards maternal bling. Jewellery will be given by 35.3% of shoppers, according to the NRF survey.

Second on the list are special outings, given by 55.2% of shoppers. All those days out or weekends away amount to $4.13 billion. Third most valuable item in terms of total spend are flowers. Florists across the land will rake in $2.38 billion, and 66.5% of shoppers will get them for Mom.

Are gift cards lame? Perhaps not if you got one for Mom’s favorite shop. Let’s hope most of you do, because 43.2% of shoppers’ Moms will get them. All those gift cards add up to $2.25 billion.

Shoppers will spend almost the same on clothing and accessories ($1.89 billion) as on electronics ($1.92 billion), but will spend more per item on the latter; that’s why 35.4% of shoppers will give items of clothing as a present to their Mom, while only 13.8% will get them the latest iPad, smartphone or other electronic device.

Every Mom gets a greeting card – well, we hope so: 78.4% of shoppers buy one, but supposedly that’s because Stacy will co-sign Dave’s card. Or vice versa. Greeting cards are the smallest item on the national shopping list, coming in at only $792 million.

Adding a bit more detail, this second graph shows you what to expect depending on how old the  bearers of your gifts are. Pink is for the 18- to 24-year-olds, red for the 25- to 34-year-olds, and 18+ is the average for everyone 18 or older, up to 65 and beyond (thus including the husbands or significant others of all but the cougarest of mothers).

With nearly half of all 25-year-olds still living at home (up from just a quarter in 1999), it’s the youngest segment of those surveyed by the NRF that benefit the most from Mom’s housework. And yet it’s the 18- to 24-year-olds that fork out the least money for Mother’s Day. Electronics are the favorite gift category for the 18- to 24-year-olds, but on average they spend less than $100 per item, $20 less than the average over all age groups. The gap is even bigger for the second-favorite gift category (both for the ‘pink’ segment and on average), jewellery: the young ones spend $22.50 less than the average spend on those earrings and necklaces, and almost $30 less than their elder siblings, even though these have probably moved out by now, and do their own cooking and washing.

Compared to the 18- to 24-year-old cheapskates, these 25- to 34-year-olds are big spenders. As mentioned, they outspend the average on jewellery for mother, but spend an equal amount on electronics. The average here is about $10 higher – possibly reflecting those iPads Dads buy, knowing he’ll get to use them as much as Mom does.

For the other categories, the 25- to 34-year-olds’ spend is a pretty close match to the all-age average – except for housewares. Moms, you’re a lot more likely to get some pots or pans from these kids than from your younger ones, or your partner. Perhaps it’s a subtle way of finally admitting, after they’ve moved out, that they really love your cooking!

Although mothers and motherhood have been celebrated throughout history by various civilisations and religions, the modern Mother’s Day is barely a century old; only in 1914 did president Woodrow Wilson designate the second Sunday in May as a national holiday to honor all mothers. Ironically, the woman who celebrated the very first Mother’s Day, in 1908, eventually turned against the holiday: Anna Jarvis came to resent the commercialization of Mother’s Day, organising boycotts and protests and threatening lawsuits. Her ideal Mother’s Day gift was a hand-written letter, expressing gratitude – but the American public – mothers included – have preferred gifts and pre-printed cards ever since.

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Mother’s Day