With Mother's Day just around the corner, Long Island business owners, retailers and analysts predict an uptick in spending on moms driven by lower gas prices -- which are more than a dollar lower than a year ago, despite rising recently -- and higher discretionary income.
Consumers will likely show their appreciation to their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and friends on Sunday with flowers, meals and massages. Recently, gifts offering experiences have become increasingly popular with consumers, said Marshal Cohen, retail analyst with The NPD Group, a Port Washington-based market research company.
"Over the last few years, 'experiential' starts to be more important as a gift instead of a product," Cohen said. "Now, pampering mom is the key. You will see a lot of gift cards for massages and nail salons."
Gas prices -- though they've risen in recent weeks -- are far lower than a year ago, according to AAA. The average cash price for regular gas in Nassau and Suffolk counties Wednesday morning was $2.89, up from $2.575 a month ago, but far below $3.976 a year ago.
Cohen said Long Islanders, who are saving an average $28 a month on gas, are likely to use some of that extra cash to spend more on mom this year.
Danielle Conte, a retail consultant and founder of the shopping blog YoutailRetail.com in Centerport, agreed. "Consumer confidence goes up when there is extra income. There is a relationship to spend more."
Mother's Day sales nationally are expected to reach $21.2 billion this year, up from $19.9 billion last year, according to a National Retail Federation survey, with the average holiday expenditure at $172.63 per person, compared with $162.94 last year.
Top spending categories include: $4.3 billion expected to go for jewelry, $3.8 billion to take mom out to eat or to do a special activity, $2.4 billion on flowers, $2.2 billion on gift cards, $1.9 billion on apparel, and $1.5 billion on the growing category of gifts of personal services such as spa treatments, according to the federation.
For Drew Patrick, a day spa, cafe and gift store in Bay Shore, Mother's Day is the second biggest holiday after Christmas. The store is offering spa packages ranging from $150 to $300 for massages, facials and scalp treatments.
"We're in a society of instant gratification," Drew Patrick marketing manager Corinne O'Hara said. "If a mom wants something, they would get it themselves. What we try to promote is a gift of experiences and a gift of time. Women need to relax and rejuvenate themselves."
The expected busy weekend means Ann Marie Pierce, owner of Imperial Florist in Baldwin, which became a 1-800-Flowers.com franchise shop two years ago, has enlisted her own mother to help fill orders and added about four drivers and designers to her usual staff of four. Mother's Day is her second largest holiday after Valentine's Day.
Pierce, who has been in business for 25 years, said she's been prepping for the holiday since Easter. "People celebrate Mother's Day through the week. The orders are light in the beginning of the week. From Thursday on, the orders pick up."
With consumers ready to get out of the house after a long, hard winter, restaurateur Jay Grossman hopes that eagerness will translate into a profitable weekend. He is offering Mother's Day buffet-style brunches at his Mexican restaurant K. Pacho in New Hyde Park and at his Latin and Italian restaurant The Refuge in Melville.
"Mother's Day is the kickoff of the busy season," Grossman said. "It is one of the biggest dining-out days of the year."