Sorry Mom! Recession makes for a cheap Mother's Day

Mon May 4, 2009 9:37am EDT
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SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Mothers may be lucky to be unwrapping a box of anything this week, as the sluggish economy turns gifts, and even greeting cards, into treats this Mother's Day, according to an Australian retail research firm.

Mother's Day, celebrated on May 10 in Australia and many parts of the world, is a traditional boon for a range of retail industries from jewelry to restaurants as people try and pamper their mums once a year.

But business information analysts IBISWorld predict a 3.9 percent drop in overall retail spending this year for Mother's Day as recession-hit Australians tighten their belts.

"A bought or home-made card and breakfast in bed will be the order of the day for many Australian families, so Mum might have to wait until next year to unwrap that something special," IBISWorld General Manager Robert Bryant said in a statement.

He said that although greeting card sales are expected to rise 1.2 percent, growth will be slower this year as some Australians opt for e-cards and the Internet to send their wishes.

Jewelry sales and gift certificates for department stores, spas and beauty services are expected to take the biggest hit, down by nearly 5 percent and 7 percent respectively.

And fewer mums will be getting flowers this year, wilting an industry already suffering from lower disposable incomes on a day that usually contributes nearly a quarter of annual revenue.

Chocolate and clothing sales are also declining and more people are choosing cheaper brands or practical, low-cost items over luxury, Bryant said.

And although dining out still constitutes a third of total spending this Mother's Day, IBISWorld said spending is expected to fall by almost 5 percent as families looking to give mums a break from the housework and cooking take her to a pub or a cafe instead of a fine-dining establishment.

"It may be a common case of forgoing cordon bleu in favor of crumbed calamari," Bryant said.

(Writing by Miral Fahmy, editing by Ian Geoghegan)