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Published: 6/16/2011

POWER UP, DAD

Retailers expect $11.1B in sales for Father's Day gifts

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Larry Tomasik, left, of Carleton, Mich., looks at power tools with hardware salesman Dennis Vaughn at The Andersons in Toledo. Larry Tomasik, left, of Carleton, Mich., looks at power tools with hardware salesman Dennis Vaughn at The Andersons in Toledo.
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Forget the tie or slippers. Surveys suggest that this year, dear old dad will receive some fairly pricey gifts on Father's Day.

For the holiday on Sunday, $11.1 billion will be spent this year on gifts, up 13 percent from last year, or an average of $106 per household, up from $94 last year and the highest Father's Day spending in eight years, the National Retail Federation predicts.

"Spending on Dad has taken a backseat for the past few years, but some kids and wives are planning to make up for lost time this Father's Day," said Matthew Shay, president and chief executive of the trade group. "Shoppers seem to be more excited when it comes to gift giving, an encouraging sign for retailers -- and dads -- everywhere."

At The Andersons Inc., which operates general stores in the Toledo area, spokesman Debra Crow said the retailer already has had strong sales of items typically associated with Father's Day.

In addition, gift card sales have been brisk, Ms. Crow added.

Kevin Oswald, co-owner of the Do-It-Best Hardware in Lambertville, said his store has been selling many Weber gas grills the last two weeks at prices from $500 to more than $1,000.

Customers also have been buying grilling accessories as gifts for dad.

"It seems to be that people aren't going on vacation or are going on minivacations this summer and they're putting their money into staying home," he said.

Dad appears to be benefiting from the decision, Mr. Oswald added.

Greg Fish, owner of the South Toledo Golf Club, said Father's Day sales at his pro shop thus far have fallen into two categories -- gift cards and golf balls -- which are typically big sellers at this time each year.

"But my retail business has been a little better this year than last year, so I'm expecting it to be better this year for Father's Day. I think people have a little bit more money than usual to spend this year," he said.

At the Buckeye Store & More in Sylvania, manager Al Luna said sales have been very good the last two weeks, but it has been a combination of two things.

"There's been lots of graduation parties, and now people are also wanting to get things for Father's Day," he said.

The retail federation said consumers plan to spend $2.1 billion for dad on activities such as golfing, eating out, or a movie.

About $1.4 billion will be spent on gift cards, $653 million on sporting goods, and $593 million on automotive accessories. About $1.3 billion will be spent on electronics, $1.4 billion on clothing, and $1.4 billion on home improvement or gardening tools and appliances, and $598 million on books or CDs.

At Bass Pro Shops in Rossford, marketing manager Patti Fantozz said the retailer has been preparing specials on shirts, fishing, and camping equipment, and once again is making a special supply of fudge in the shape of a necktie.

"We are definitely seeing [Father's Day sales]. Our sales have been up in areas like electronics -- fish finders, fish fryers, and turkey fryers," she said.

Paul Stark, owner of Diamond's Men's Shop in Springfield Township, said business has been pretty steady all spring and this week, but he expects a bigger crush of Father's Day shoppers Friday and Saturday to buy gifts.

"People tend to buy at the last second for guys. On Saturday, it's going to be, 'Oh my god, it's Father's Day tomorrow. I'd better get something,' " he said.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.



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