Merchants hope for prosperous Mother's Day

May 8, 2008 5:37:14 PM PDT
Mother's Day is Sunday, just a few days away. And area businesses are hoping the economic downturn we're facing won't drag down an occasion that perhaps, as much as any, is considered something on which to splurge when it comes to gifts. "The nice thing about Mother's Day is that all flowers are popular," said Red Kennicott, who offered the philosophy that has spelled success for the flower wholesaler for 125 years and readied the staff of thr employee-owned operation for their sales event of the year.

With flowers from around the world, and flower shops around Chicago relying on this place to get them product, transportation costs worry Kennicott.

"Gas prices are up, and there is a recession perhaps. But that can be a good thing for the flower business because flowers are very affordable and maybe people give up some of their more expensive things," he said.

They're hoping that kind of trade off doesn't mean skipping Mother's Day brunch at O'Donovan's in North Center. They're gearing up for a big crowd Sunday, despite the National Retail Federation forecasting Mother's Day spending to dip this year for the first time since 2002.

"You know what, it is a huge day, we save all of our files from last year, it is at least a month of planning to get ready for it and it is a huge day," said Erin Folan, O'Donovan's.

Some mothers and their daughters are cashing in gift certificates for the big weekend ahead. Some customers were watching their spending. But there are some things you can't economize on.

"A lot of our stylists, you are going to get in for $50 for a haircut and things like that. If you want a color and a cut, no, $100 isn't going to pay for the whole thing," said Susan Gardner, Salon Envy.

It's a mindset economic analyst Bob Goldin says should be expected as oil prices soar - the key measure that has people thinking about what they can splurge on for mom this year.

"Psychologically, how consumers feel affects how much consumers are willing to spend and where they are willing to spend it. And right now consumers don't feel good about their economic situation," said Goldin, Technomic Inc.

President Woodrow Wilson declared the first Mother's Day in 1914. And the National Retail Federation says Americans consumers will spend $138.63 per mom this year, which is just below last year's total.

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