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Dads become increasingly discretionary

Jeremy Simon

Dads shouldn’t expect much this Father’s Day, but those who are getting something should expect gift cards.

That’s the finding reported by Brand Keys, a brand and customer loyalty consultancy based in New York. According to the results of a consumer study, while dads usually get less on their designated day than moms do, fathers are becoming an increasingly discretionary expense.

“While it’s typical that not quite as much money is spent on fathers as on mothers, this year’s average anticipated spend is down versus last year,” says Brand Keys President Robert Passikoff in a company press release. “This year’s survey indicates fewer consumers (70 percent versus 77 percent in 2007) will be celebrating, and those that are will spend an average of $115 to recognize dad. That’s down 8 percent over last year.” Sorry, Dad.

Fathers who do get something are most likely to receive a gift card, according to Brand Keys. Consumers said their Father’s Day funds would be used as follows:

  • Gift cards: 30 percent
  • Clothing: 25 percent
  • Tools: 13 percent
  • Electronics: 10 percent
  • Wine/alcohol: 9 percent
  • DVDs: 8 percent
  • Phones: 5 percent

These results mark a 5 percent year-over-year uptick in consumers’ planned gift card buying. “This is a trend we identified a number of years ago and it continues to reveal itself holiday-after-holiday,” Passikoff says.

With some consumers still planning to go shopping for dad this year, where are Father’s Day gifts likely to be purchased? Brand Keys asked that question and got the following responses:

  • Discount stores: 35 percent
  • Department stores: 22 percent
  • Specialty outlets: 20 percent
  • Online: 15 percent
  • Catalog sales: 8 percent

Additionally, the Brand Keys survey found that while families plan to connect with dad via phone, personal visit and online, “Personal visits are down 5 percent since last year, which may reflect the cost of gasoline,” Passikoff says. That’s in line with the results of a poll showing a majority of U.S. adults say they have cut back on visiting family or friends due to high gas prices.

Perhaps with consumers planning to spend less on both dad and gas this year, it’s just easier and cheaper to mail a gift card for Father’s Day.

In case you’re wondering when not to send dad a gift this year, Father’s Day is June 15.

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  • Tony Hubbs

    Because of my tight money situation this year I have been planning for father’s day since 2 months, daily checking out bargain hunting websites (like, Dealtme) to buy the perfect gift at half price. Ofcourse dad doesn’t need to know!