With Father's Day shopping under way area retailers are bracing for big crowds and heavy spending, and perhaps a few thrown elbows in checkout lines.
But because of high fuel and food costs, total spending nationwide is expected to be down this year for Sunday's commemoration of dads.
At a Home Depot in Toledo, store manager Diane Cormier-Agan said she always notices "an increase in footsteps" this time of year, and doesn't expect it to change now.
"It's definitely one of the more popular holidays at Home Depot. Everybody loves tools," she said.
Sales at area electronics stores also are expected to increase this week, said Edward Gordon, a Radio Shack store manager. The most popular gadgets, he added, are Sirius satellite radios, Bluetooth devices, cell phones, and global positioning systems.
The National Retail Federation predicts spending will be down this year. On average, people are expected to spend about $95, compared with $98 last year. Spending nationally is estimated to be $9.6 billion, far behind the nearly $16 billion for Mother's Day, the group said.
"If you're looking at what the immediate drag on disposable income is, it's higher gas prices and food prices," said Scott Krugman, spokesman for the trade group.
Still, area retailers are still expecting increased sales this week.
"In the book-selling industry, Father's Day is the second-largest selling holiday besides Christmas," said Jennifer Habrych, a spokesman for Barnes and Noble. She expects traditionally male-oriented genres, such as sports, grill cookery, history, and politics, to sell well this week.
Sales at sporting-goods stores also are expected to jump.
"We consider it the golf industry's Christmas. It's extremely popular," said Thomas Clifford, manager of a Golf Galaxy in Toledo. He expects shoppers to buy up apparel, clubs, and a gift cards at a high rate.
Dick's Sporting Goods, with three stores in metro Toledo, also treats Father's Day like a mini-Christmas.
"We consider it a holiday. We schedule for it, staff up for it," said district manager Phil Hurst. "You get a lot of customers coming in looking for ideas that need a little extra nudge in the right direction, so we have extra people on."
The most popular items, he said, are in golf, camping, fishing, athletic apparel, and water sports.
John Swemba, owner of Cigar Affair in Maumee, said Father's Day means big sales of his imported premium cigars.
"Our clientele is pretty much 100 percent gentlemen," he said. "And with all the political correctness about smoking, it's something that people know their father still appreciates."
Despite an all-male customer base, he's not worried about dipping sales.
"It's kind of like 'Gas prices are high and I'm all stressed out, but I'm going to sit down tonight and have a good cigar,'•" he said. "It's cheaper than a psychiatrist."
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