Mother’s Day Shopping & Returns Predictions

NRF predicts Mother’s Day spending will rise to about $31.7 billion this year, up $3.6 billion from last year’s record amount. The survey also indicates the average adult will spend approximately $245 pampering mom.

While those predictions are a great sign for retailers,  results from our Spring consumer survey demonstrate that many Americans fall into a different spending bracket. In fact, we found most mass market shoppers are searching for value, especially as inflation soars to historic heights.

After analyzing survey results, along with e-commerce and in-store data from our network over the last two years, we discovered interesting trends for retailers to consider this holiday season. Here we review Mother’s Day purchase and returns trends, and our predictions for 2022.

Mother’s Day Purchases: Analysis and Predictions

Mother’s Day Shopping Trends

Just two years ago, Mother’s Day spending–and nearly all retail spending–came to a screeching halt due to Covid shutdowns and rampant unemployment. As a result, value-driven consumers overwhelmingly skipped Mother’s Day gifting. And those who did buy gifts for mom focused on low-value items. Bath & Body was the most popular category, followed by makeup and women’s shoes. Overall, Mother’s Day season 2020 was challenging for retailers for a myriad of reasons.

In 2021, Americans were more financially secure and ready to get out in public again. This shifting landscape meant people focused on different gift categories for moms and were willing to pay more overall. So, last year, value-driven shoppers increased spending by 195% overall. They spent more on bracelets than any other category, at an average purchase price of $56 per item. Additionally, Mother’s Day shoppers focused on sleepwear and robes, spending $20 on average per purchase.

Mother’s Day Shopping Predictions

Now, in the second year of pandemic recovery, consumer spending is still growing, but at a much slower rate than in 2021. Due to low consumer confidence and high inflation raising prices by 7.9%, shoppers told us they plan to reduce spending this Spring and look for deals wherever possible. As a result, we predict a more conservative 15-20% overall growth from last year’s gifts for mom.

Mother’s Day Returns: Analysis and Predictions

Mother’s Day Returns Trends

Typically, Mother’s Day returns season is less impactful than post-holiday returns - the overall returns loss is about 25% less per item during the Mother’s Day season than the rest of the year. Overall, this is a positive sign for retailers.

Below are the top returned categories, according to our aggregated data from 2020 and 2021.
- Digital Picture Frames
- Massagers & Spa goods
- Makeup products

It turns out moms really don’t like digital picture frames. In fact, no one does. This category is among the top returns all year long, signifying that retailers may want to reconsider the volume at which they purchase these items.

Moms also don’t love other people picking out their makeup. Unfortunately, many retailers accept these returns, but they cannot repurpose and resell makeup due to liability issues. That means returned cosmetics typically equate to a total loss.

Mother’s Day Returns Tips and Predictions

Omnichannel retailers can prepare for Mother’s Day season armed with data and goTRG’s returns predictions.

- Based on our data consistency, we see “memory making items” continuing to rise to the top of returned products. Massagers, spa items, and makeup will also remain among the top categories.

- We predict the lowest returns volume from sleepwear, robes, and accessories.

- Mass-market retailers should expect to see about a $6.45 lower returns loss per item during the Mother’s Day season compared to the rest of the year. They’ll see fewer returns overall but need to employ a strategy to prevent profit loss and recover value from low-cost items.

Online sellers may want to consider the threshold at which it makes sense for them to accept returns. goTRG’s data shows that items that retail for $30 or less are not worth the cost to ship, receive, process, and resell. Additionally, since retailers cannot resell many of these items (bath, body, makeup, haircare), it may not make sense to ask customers to send the products back. Retailers may want to consider a thoughtful returnless refund strategy for situations like this. Investing in third-party returns management software will prove to be an asset for all retailers to squeeze the most value out of their returns across categories and price points.

The Bottom Line

This year’s Mother’s Day sales and returns season will be relatively predictable, less impactful than the rest of the year, and easier to manage with the right resources. With the proper purchasing strategies, policies, and partners in place, retailers can boost sales while minimizing returns losses this Mother’s Day.