Undated file photo of an Apple iPad.

Undated file photo of an Apple iPad. Credit: Getty Images

Dads and retailers alike can hope this weekend for better presents and increased sales, as the National Retail Federation has forecast that total spending for Father's Day is anticipated to hit an eight-year high.

Despite more cautious spending behavior prompted by the economic downturn, Americans are expected to spend a combined $11.1 billion on dads this year, according to a survey of 8,000 Americans the federation commissioned from BIGresearch. That means an average of $106.49 spent on dad for gifts or activities, up from $94.32 last year, according to NRF's figures.

The reason for the spending surge may be a "guilt factor" that consumers feel because they have been spending less on fathers the last few years, said Kathy Grannis, a spokeswoman for NRF.

It was definitely a splurge for Greenlawn resident Natalie Mason, 32, who bought her husband an iPad for Father's Day. But it wasn't because of any guilt. "He got a promotion this year, so I figured I would give him an extra treat for all the hard work," she said.

Other shoppers were feeling more prudent. Jenna Antonelli, 34, said she plans to buy a folding chair for her husband. She doesn't plan on spending a lot, but said the item is a thoughtful necessity. "I'm going to be reasonable," the Merrick resident said. "My husband's been playing softball for 10 years, so he needs a good chair for his game."

Long Island businesses seemed to be experiencing a mix of sales activity as the weekend approached. Some stores reported higher sales, others were optimistic about the positive outlook.

Marshs, a high-end menswear retailer in Huntington, has seen a "double-digit" increase in sales compared to June of last year, said Andrew Mitchell-Nambar, vice president of marketing for Mitchell Family of Stores, which owns the shop.

For the electronics and appliances retailer P.C. Richard & Son, sales have been fairly "consistent" compared to last year, said president Gregg Richard. "I don't expect it to be a huge jump," he said. "But I'm hopeful and counting on that we will see some small increases."

In April, NRF reported a similar jump in Mother's Day spending, up to $140.73 per person this year compared to $126.90 last year. Although the spending gap between Mother's Day and Father's Day has narrowed somewhat, many retail experts say it will never close.

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