In 1909, Sonora Dodd, raised by her father, listened to a Mother’s Day sermon and came up with the idea for “Father’s Day.” She held such a celebration a year later. By 1956 Father’s Day had been recognized by a Joint Resolution of Congress and in 1972, President Richard Nixon established a permanent national observance held on the third Sunday of June.

In 2011, 102 years later, according to the Brand Keys Father’s Day survey, it’s expected to be an $11 billion dollar retail holiday. Seventy-one percent of consumers will be celebrating, spending an average of $123.00 to honor Dad. That’s up 7% from last year and here’s what celebrants said they were looking to buy (parentheses indicate percent-changes from last year):

  • Gift cards 35% (+5%)
  • Electronics 26% (+6%)
  • Clothing 23% (-3%)
  • Tools/Automotive 19% (+2%)
  • Sporting Goods 6% (NA)
  • Wine/Alcohol 5% (-0-)
  • DVDs/CDs 3% (+1%)
  • Books 2% (-1%)

The biggest change was in electronics, and here’s what shoppers are buying:

  • Tablets (20%),
  • Electronic readers (15%),
  • Smartphones (12%),
  • MP3 players (7%),
  • Computers (5%),
  • Cameras (5%)

Personal visits (25%) and meal excursions (43%) are down 5% each this year, probably due to the cost of gasoline. But online outreach and increased spend seems to be taking up that slack.

There’s an old saying that a father carries pictures where his money used to be. This year’s spending seems to indicate families are trying to make up for that!