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Cashman: Tie one on for Father's Day

Published: Sunday, June 16, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Sunday, June 16, 2013 8:49 a.m. CDT

Americans were planning to spend a little bit more on dad this Father’s Day. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2013 Father’s Day spending survey, the average person will shell out $119 on dad’s gifts this year, up from $117 last year. Total spending for Father’s Day is expected to reach $13.3 billion.

Still, dads come up short compared to Mother’s Day spending. Consumers spent an average of $168 on mom for her special day last month, up 11 percent from last year’s $152. Total spending was expected to reach $20.7 billion.

Ask a typical dad what he wants for Father’s Day and he’s likely to say, “Oh, nothing.”

“Never expecting more than a nice day out or a special family dinner, dads are usually easy to shop for,” said National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay.

There were an estimated 70.1 million fathers across the nation in 2008, the most recent year for which census data are available. The number of fathers who were part of married-couple families with children younger than 18 in 2012 was 24.4 million. There were 1.96 million single fathers in 2012; 16 percent of single parents were men.

Consumers will mostly stick to the traditional gifts for dad, but some will splurge on clothing, electronic items, and special outings.

According to the NRF survey, those celebrating Father’s Day will spend $2.5 billion on a special outing, such as a sporting event or dinner, $1.7 billion on a new electronic gadget, such as a tablet or GPS system, and $1.8 billion on clothing. Dad also can expect plenty of gift cards; families will shell out $1.8 billion on the perfect practical gift. Others will splurge on home improvement and gardening tools ($755 million), sporting goods ($710 million), personal care items ($707 million), and even automotive accessories ($592 million).

Though most will buy for “dad,” Americans will celebrate the other men in their life as well; 53 percent will  buy gifts for their father or stepfather, and 29 percent will shop for something nice for their husband. Additionally, 9.7 percent will buy a gift for their son, 4.9 percent will look for something for their grandfather and 6.4 percent will shop for their brother.

Department stores remain the preferred shopping location for gift buyers: 40.6 percent will look for dad’s gift there. Others will shop at discount stores (31.5 percent), specialty stores including greeting card/gift and electronics stores (27.3 percent), and specialty clothing stores (9.9 percent). Online retailers will see a slight increase in traffic this year; 29.8 percent will shop online, up from 28.4 percent last year.

In the end, success and happiness for their children is all that dads really want for Father’s Day. But a new tie would be nice, too.

Happy Father’s Day.

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