“Tradition” is the watchword this year when it comes to Mother’s Day gifts, according to our annual Brand Keys survey of 5,200 men and women, ages 18-65. On the rational side of things, it turns out more than 9 out of 10 consumers (92%) plan to celebrate Mother’s Day some way, driving total spending to an estimated $18.6 billion. That’s an average spend of $171.00, up five percent over last year, with men, following their traditional pattern of spending more a reported average of $200. Women reported an anticipated spend of $142.

Two years ago, consumers — always feeling good about mom but feeling a little better about the economy — focused Mother’s Day dollars into electronics: smartphones, tablets, and e-readers. This year the consumers’ purchase lists are made up of more traditional, more personal gifts and occasions: cards, brunch or dinner, flowers, and clothing. So it seems fair to say that, like every other consumer purchase, the Mother’s Day decision is part rational and part emotional.

On the rational side of the decision process, no matter how much you love Mom, she really doesn’t need a new phone or tablet every year, no matter how much tech brands wish that was the case. On the emotional side, the leading gift choices tend to be more personal and more emotionally engaging. Which is why this year clothing (+8%) and spa pampering (+10%) outpaced technology gifts.

As to shopping, the consumers will continue to use multiple venues. Discount (45%), Department Stores (36%), and Online (30%) remain generally unchanged fro last year. Catalogs and Specialty Retail were each down 5% again this year (reported at 40% and 10%, respectively).

Mother’s Day is the second-biggest consumer-spending holiday, behind Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanza, probably because it involves a broader spectrum of relationships, embracing step-moms, female relatives, and friends.  More broad too, linked to changing family dynamics, including divorced, single-parent, and same-sex households. And more universal when you combine all that with the fact it crosses ethnic, cultural, and religious boundaries. And that makes it a real opportunity for retailers.

Emotionally and rationally.