Meet Commerce’s Secret Weapon — Moms

While there is no such thing as a perfect human being – there are actually very few people on Earth who don’t think that their mother is, in fact, basically perfect. Sure, everyone’s mom had something like the time they forgot to take the Saran Wrap off the pork chops before putting them in the oven, thus accidentally laminating them, but Moms are also the people who put the Band-Aids on all the boo-boos — real and imagined — and make everything feel better.

More relevant to payments and PYMNTS, without our mothers, we very literally wouldn’t be the wonderful PYMNTS community we are today. Our mothers loved us when we were babies and had absolutely zero useful skills and didn’t heed the warnings not to let their babies grow up to be payments innovators.

So, while arguably everyone everywhere should send their Mom a card once a day for putting up with them through both infancy and adolescence — for the sake of efficiency in the U.S. we limit our national outpouring of gratitude to the second Sunday in May each year. We all celebrate differently — some do cards, some go to ball games, everyone goes to brunch and the particularly astute know that jewelry is always the best way to say “thank you.”

While methods may vary, this weekend will be dedicated to showing Moms everywhere just how much they mean. And while the value of mothers everywhere scarcely needs to be proven, PYMNTS has found that there is no subject not improved with a quick glance at a statistic or two. So, we present, the first in what will certainly become an annual look at “Mommerce” – the influence of Moms on commerce.

Mother’s Day 2015 By The Numbers

It looks as if it is going to be a particularly banner year for American Moms – that is at least according to the  NRF’s 2015 Mother’s Day Spending Survey.

In the U.S. this year the average family will spend $172.63 on Mom – up from last year’s $162.94. The total estimated spending is pitched at $21.2 billion – which would be the highest in the survey’s history.

“We’re encouraged by the positive shift we’ve seen in spending on discretionary and gift items from consumers so far this year, certainly boding well for retailers across all spectrums who are planning to promote Mother’s Day specials, including home improvement, jewelry, apparel and other specialty retailers as well as restaurants,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

Cards – as always – are the most common gift this year with 80 percent of consumers planning to pick one up. Flowers have also retained their historical second place spot with around two-thirds of consumers collectively expected to shell out around $2 billion in floral arrangements. Electronics are also forecasted to perform well this year – particularly smartphones and eReaders – and rack up roughly $1.8 billion in spending. Mother’s Day is also a service product heavy holiday – with lots of shoppers snagging up spa days, manicures and massages for Mom – to the tune of around $1.5 billion. That’s a lot of well-groomed hands and feet.

In a slight change of pace, however, Mother’s Day eCommerce actually declined in 2015, with 25 percent of consumers seeking gifts online this year, as opposed to the 29 percent who took to the Web in 2014. Mobile devices are playing an important part – particularly for 18-29 year olds, almost half of whom use their smart device to browse and a third of which use their devices to buy.

“Mother’s Day is extremely unique and personal for millions of consumers, and families this year will look for different ways to enjoy their time with Mom,” said Prosper’s Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow. “While some will splurge, others will search high and low for the perfect, practical gift, knowing that [Mom] will like any gift that comes from the heart.”

Then There’s The Rest Of The Year…

Moms everywhere will certainly like any gift that comes from the heart, but then Moms will also like any gift that someone else bought – since as it turns out Mother’s Day may be the one day a year (and certainly the only holiday) that Mom is not in charge of the shopping.

In the U.S., around three quarters of mothers identify themselves as the primary shopper in their household. Mothers do most of the grocery shopping in the U.S., and over 80 percent of mothers report going to the grocery store more than once a week. At 2-3 times a month, the mothers of the nation shop and complete orders for consumer goods (toys, clothing, tech devices) more than any other demographic group on average – 20 percent of Moms purchase consumer goods at least once a week, also more than any other demographic group.

According to a study by Nielsen, Moms are 50 percent more likely to buy toys and 35 percent more likely to shop for clothes online than the average consumer. That last stat should not be surprising, since 78 percent of all mothers report that they buy all or most of their children’s clothing, while 62 percent report buying all or most of their spouse’s clothing.

Moms are also doing a lot of that buying online – which also makes sense since statistically speaking half of them work full time, which means saving time is valuable. With a stat that puts even millennials to shame, 83 percent of moms report having a smartphone and 62 percent of those smartphone owners have at least one shopping app on it. Moms are also heavy tablet users, as 60 percent report owning at least one – and 44 percent report owning more than one. As for their digital commerce habits, 40 percent report shopping online via mobile at least semi-regularly, 78 percent report using devices to research products and 25 percent say their main use for their device is to look for coupons.

And The Next Generation Of Consumers

Plus, it turns out that for the most recent generation of consumers, Mom did more than teach them how to shop — she also taught them how to think about money.

In a recent poll, asked consumers who the biggest influence in their financial life was. Among millennials (respondents between the ages of 18 to 29) Mom was the biggest factor in developing their financial habits and money management skills.

This was not the case for adults in general – noted Matt Schulz from in a recent interview with PYMNTS.

“Millennials say their Mom is the biggest financial influence in their family. As people get older, Mom’s influence decreases and people are far more likely to say they are their own best financial influence, which we thought was kind of interesting.” And somewhat surprising, Schulz noted, on two fronts.

One was the degree to which Americans named themselves as their biggest influence. The second was how much Dad was not a factor.

“It was still surprising to see that that many people said they were their own biggest influence, as opposed to Mom, or Dad. In previous generations, and we don’t have data on this obviously, but anecdotally Dad has traditionally been the financial guru in the family, but that has obviously changed. There’s been a sea-change in recent decades and a lot of what we are seeing in terms of the influence of Mom is indicative of that change.” Indeed, Schulz noted that, unlike Moms, there were no demographic groups where Dads won out and were named the biggest influence of anyone’s financial lives.

The knowledge of which, in and of itself, is something of a gift to mothers everywhere.