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This Mother’s Day, some will spend time over money

Sat., May 10, 2008

CINCINNATI – Some moms may not be getting both chocolates and a bouquet for Mother’s Day this year as consumers watch their spending. Even businesses that traditionally benefit from the holiday, like florists and restaurants, are advertising special offers and products.

Analysts don’t expect a dramatic drop in Mother’s Day spending, but think it will be lighter despite the extra cash some consumers have from their tax refunds and stimulus payments.

“I’d be very surprised if there’s any big jump in spending, and I’d be surprised if rebates get earmarked for Mother’s Day,” said Ken Perkins, president of research firm Retail Metrics LLC.

With middle- and lower-income consumers especially feeling the pinch from rising food and gas prices, mothers may be the ones urging their loved ones to scale back.

Rosalie Pryor, of Cincinnati, told her 11 children just to get her cards this year instead of flowers and gifts. “Some of them are working two jobs just to take care of their families,” said Pryor. “With everyone living from paycheck to paycheck, I’d rather them use the money to pay bills.”

Some gift-givers are getting creative.

Instead of buying several gifts, Kevin Ford, 41, of Fort Worth, Texas, and his siblings were replacing a dead tree in their mother’s yard and doing some yard cleanup.

“It was something she really needed, and we could do the work ourselves,” said Ford.

Bouquet shoppers using were offered discounts and some arrangements that included extras like gifts, chocolates or additional roses. Floral wire service Teleflora also offered discounts and an “America’s Favorite Mom” arrangement accompanied by a medallion for just under $50.

“We designed the bouquet a year ago with a price point that would offer good value and be affordable for a wide range of consumers,” Teleflora President Shawn Weidmann said. “And that’s especially important now.”

Grocery chain Kroger Co. is counting on its candy, cards and prepared meals to attract Mother’s Day shoppers, as well as its floral shops offering various specials. Stores in its Cincinnati-Dayton area were offering 24 rose stems this year instead of 12 for $22.99.

Department store offerings have included free shipping on some purchases from Macy’s Inc.’s Web site and a Macy’s drawing for a $5,000 gift card and a shopping trip to one of several U.S. cities. Bloomingdale’s provided special in-store events and a catalog offer. Williams-Sonoma Inc. offered rush shipping at standard prices for some items.

Restaurants, among the businesses hurt by tightened consumer spending, are hoping people take mom out to eat.

“Mother’s Day is always a big day for us, and we think it will be this year,” said Andrew Jordan, senior vice president of marketing at T.G.I. Friday’s.

The casual dining chain is offering moms free dessert when they have an entree, and giving dads a voucher to bring back on Father’s Day for free onion rings.


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