Share this article

Mother’s Day by the Numbers: How to Capitalize on This $20 Billion Retail Holiday

Mother’s Day has a long and varied history. Indeed, mothers have long been heralded by cultures and societies likely since the dawn of man, though celebrations have certainly taken different forms over the centuries.

The U.S. version of Mother’s Day can be traced back to Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia, who in the years before the Civil War kickstarted local Mothers’ Day Work Clubs aimed at teaching women how to properly care for their children. As racial and political tensions heated up in the region, these local work clubs served as a unifying force among women both during and after the Civil War. In 1868, Jarvis organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” at which mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation. Following in the same vein, another abolitionist and suffragette, Julia Ward Howe, called upon mothers to help promote world peace in 1870.

The U.S. version of Mother’s Day can be traced back to Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia.

Click To Tweet

Officially, Mother’s Day reached national holiday recognition in the 1900s, spurred on by Ann Jarvis’ daughter Anna Jarvis. Following her mother’s 1905 death, Anna Jarvis conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers make for their children. Interestingly enough, Anna found financial support for the first official Mother’s Day celebration from a Philadelphia department store owner. It was at one of his stores where thousands gathered for that first event, forever tying the knot between Mother’s Day and retail.

After that first celebration, Anna made it her lifelong mission to ensure that the holiday reach national attention, saying that too many U.S. holidays honor the achievements of men. By 1912, many states had adopted Mother’s Day as a day of recognition and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day is the third largest retail holiday in the U.S.

Click To Tweet

Today, Mother’s Day is a holiday celebrated internationally. It is also the third largest retail holiday in the U.S., behind the winter holidays and the back-to-school season. And indeed, the numbers speak for themselves:

  • [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]$1.9 billion: total amount of money spent on flowers for their mothers on Mother’s Day[/inlinetweet]

  • [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]$20.7 billion: total amount of money that will be spent for mothers on Mother’s Day[/inlinetweet]

  • [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]$671 million: total amount of money spent on Mother’s Day Cards annually[/inlinetweet]

What is truly interesting here, however, is the spending habits of those purchasing Mother’s Day gifts. Shoppers are buying most often for their own mother or stepmother (65%), but also for wives, daughters, grandmothers, sisters and friends. And, when shoppers are looking to buy for Mother’s Day, they look to small businesses:

  • [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]66% of Americans will shop at boutiques or small retail businesses for Mother’s Day gifts[/inlinetweet]

  • [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]84% of Americans feel that gifts from boutiques and small retail businesses are more personal and unique[/inlinetweet]

  • [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]64% of Americans feel that gifts from boutiques or small retail businesses are better quality[/inlinetweet]

And here’s the kicker: 29% of Americans will buy their Mother’s Day gifts online. So, what does it take to increase that percentage, or at least get a few of them buying from your business? Free shipping often does the trick –– 55% of those surveyed said this was the most persuasive tactic. Price cuts (44%) and coupons (41%) were a close second. Yet, don’t rely too heavily on discounts to close the deal: 22% of those surveyed said no retailer tactics successfully influenced their purchasing decision.

29% of Americans will buy their Mother’s Day gifts online.

Click To Tweet

Which online stores will profit most from Mother’s Day? Greeting cards, flowers and special dinners out top the list of planned purchases for shoppers (at 81%, 68% and 55% respectively). But, a few online categories have been gaining steam over the past couple years –– consumer electronics being one of them.

Consumer electronics spending grew 44% from 2012 to 2013 reaching $2.3 billion, putting it on par with Mother’s Day flower spend. Here is how that spend breaks down:

  • 46%: Tablet

  • 27%: Smartphone

  • 20%: Computer

  • 13%: Camera

  • 11%: E-reader

In all, mothers are getting more and more tech-savvy. More than 50% of mothers with dependent children own tablets and these women are, like the rest of the shopping population, using mobile devices to browse and compare before actually purchasing. To optimize for their search queries, the following keywords have the highest search queries in the month of May:

  • 48%: Mother’s Day

  • 14%: Mother’s Day gifts

  • 14%: Mother’s Day poems

  • 10%: Gifts mom

  • 5%: Gifts her

Be sure, however, that if you are a small retailer, to use a long-tail keyword as opposed to shorter tail keywords. Big box brands often capitalize on short-tail keywords, but long-tail keywords are generally left untouched and are proven to be useful later in the purchasing decision cycle for shoppers. In all, this means that if you target long-tail keywords, you’ll likely pull in niche traffic already in the mind-set to buy. Remember: you want to optimize for more conversions, not necessarily more traffic.

Women-owned businesses generate $1.4 trillion in revenues and employ 7.8 million people.

Click To Tweet

The official holiday of Mother’s Day began as a goodwill effort to keep the peace and recognize women’s achievements. As women continue in 2015 to break through glass ceilings and bring a more holistic and balanced lifestyle approach to work culture, the celebration of their efforts remains an important topic of discussion. More than 9.1 million U.S. businesses are owned by women. They generate more than $1.4 trillion in revenues and employ nearly 7.8 million people. And this year, those women are more optimistic than ever:

  • [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]At a three-year high, 93% of female entrepreneurs see a bright future for their business performance in 2015.[/inlinetweet]

  • [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Just 53% of women business owners are concerned about access to capital, down 8% from 2014.[/inlinetweet]

  • [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]For 92% of female entrepreneurs, the ability to do something they are passionate about was the main driving force behind business ownership.[/inlinetweet]

In all, be sure to celebrate Mother’s Day this year by shopping small and showing gratitude to the multitudes of women forging ahead, raising the next generation and using their business acumen and social consciousness to wage a more equal and balanced world for all. You’ll be paying gratitude as well to the founders of the holiday in doing so.

Check out our curated list of Mother’s Day gift ideas below.

Follow Bigcommerce’s board 30 Mother’s Day Gifts She’ll Love on Pinterest.

Tracey Wallace avatar

Tracey is the Director of Marketing at MarketerHire, the marketplace for fast-growth B2B and DTC brands looking for high-quality, pre-vetted freelance marketing talent. She is also the founder of Doris Sleep and was previously the Head of Marketing at Eterneva, both fast-growth DTC brands marketplaces like MarketerHire aim to help. Before that, she was the Global Editor-in-Chief at BigCommerce, where she launched the company’s first online conference (pre-pandemic, nonetheless!), wrote books on How to Sell on Amazon, and worked closely with both ecommerce entrepreneurs and executives at Fortune 1,000 companies to help them scale strategically and profitably. She is a fifth generation Texan, the granddaughter of a depression-era baby turned WWII fighter jet pilot turned self-made millionaire, and wifed up to the truest of heroes, a pediatric trauma nurse, who keeps any of Tracey’s own complaints about business, marketing, or just a seemingly lousy day in perspective.