CEDAR CITY – Americans are expected to dump more money this year into Father’s Day gifts than they have in the last 15 years, but is that necessary? Several fathers in Southern Utah beg the question.
National surveys say
According to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey, total spending for Father’s Day in 2017 is projected to reach $15.5 billion, $1.2 billion over last year’s previous record of $14.3.
The annual survey, conducted by Prosper Insight & Analytics, showed shoppers are expected to spend an average of $134.75 for the holiday, up from the $125.92 spent in 2016 with the biggest share of spending going toward special outings like a ballgame, concert or dinner.
In an online press release issued by NRF, NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said he’s encouraged to see consumers spending money on special occasions.
“This is a positive sign of strong consumer confidence heading into the second half of the year, and a good deal for all the dads who will reap the benefits,” he said.
But some shoppers may find it surprising on what gifts dad would like the money spent on.
The NRF survey of 7,335 consumers showed 27 percent of those questioned said they would love to receive a “gift of experience” for the holiday. Yet, the same survey found only 25 percent of shoppers plan to grant that wish with gifts like tickets to a concert or a sporting event, dinner, or some other type of “fun activity/experience.”
And like the NRF results, the vote for experiences over “things” in the Today and Fatherly survey was high: Some 81 percent of fathers said they just want a chance to hang out with their loved ones.
Similarly, another national survey conducted by Propeller Insight on behalf of Ebates, determined that 87 percent of dads want to have fun with their kids on Father’s Day.
That same survey showed 1 in 10 dads said they’d like some outdoor equipment like camping, fishing or hunting supplies while 18 percent said they wanted electronics, 15 percent had their hearts set on power tools and 14 percent tickets to a sporting event.
But do the surveys accurately portray what dads really want or do the numbers reflect a rare minority who would prefer spending time with the kids and wife over going to hang out with friends at a game or getting a new BBQ?
What Southern Utah dads say they want
Similar to the national trends, many Southern Utah dads say they want more time with their children and wife – whether it’s a backyard BBQ, family vacation, camping trip or just enjoying a day lounging around the house together “having fun.”
“You know, it sounds silly, but time together with family tops my list for Father’s Day gifts,” Enoch resident Jon Whittaker said.
Cedar City resident Scott Burns also enjoys the simple Father’s Day pointing to the years his daughter use to make him breakfast.
“It was usually a disaster,” he said laughing, “but it was made with love and I can’t think of a better tradition and a better memory.”
The majority of dads interviewed said they have no interest in the latest fads or a desire to “keep up with the Joneses’” but would rather have gifts that come from the hearts and hands of their children.
“I love it when my kids make gifts and don’t buy them,” Cedar City resident Del Schlosser said. “Those I love the most.”
The most favorite gifts Enoch resident Mike Berg said he has ever received are those his children have made using their creativity and imagination.
“You are going to think I’m silly but my kids make me crafts and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Berg said. “My 14-year-old son made me a clock out of pallet pieces and wood burned and carved it for police week. My 11-year-old daughter did a T-shirt last year and I wear it all the time. I’m all about gifts from the hear not the store – no matter how simple.”
Echoing the same sentiments, San Juan County resident Monte Wells said the gifts he has loved the most are the handwritten cards his kids made him.
“I have saved them over the years,” Wells said. “They are my most cherished gift.”
Cedar City resident Jerry Womack said he also loves his children’s handmade gifts.
“Honestly, the best presents I’ve received were just handmade things my kids have made,” Womack said. “My oldest son is a gifted artist and he drew me a picture of the Blues Brothers – one of my all-time favorite movies – that I really cherish.”
Traditionally Father’s Day gifts have largely comprised of an assortment of ties, socks and colognes. But for most dads these items are exactly what they don’t want.
“I don’t want a tie or a T-shirt that says some stupid dad saying on it like ‘World’s Greatest Dad,’” Cedar City resident Steve Esplin said.
Instead, Esplin said he wants, “the full Lonesome Dove series, Dutch Ovens and any type of gun.” Like his male counterparts, he added that he’d like “just a good barbecue with the family.”
Likewise, Womack said he hates ties, socks and underwear.
“I have five dozen ties. I could wear a different tie every day for six months and never wear the same one,” Womack said. “I have enough socks and I like to pick out my own. I’m also pretty particular with underwear.”
There are still a few dads however, like Cedar City resident Paul Bittmenn, who said he usually asks for a “boring tie or some golf balls.”
Whittaker also said he enjoys getting “funny gifts” like a “fish tie.”
Then there are the dads like San Juan County resident Phil Lyman who are happy with just about anything. For Lyman, the most important thing he wants when his children are buying him a gift is that they don’t feel “obligated or stressed.”
“Our family tradition for the last three generations has been pimento olives,” Lyman said. “I always thought my dad loved them; but with my kids, I kind of learned that it was an easy gift for them to get me that was not expensive but something I would not really buy myself, but I could still make a big deal over it. Dads like their kids to feel good about being generous but not obligated or stressed. So, for me, novelty is better than expensive.”
“Novelty” is a good word to describe a gift Womack received about 15 years ago – a seedling blue spruce – something he said turned out to be his favorite.
“We planted it in my back yard and now is it is this magnificent, 30-foot tall, beautiful tree,” he said. “That’s my favorite gift of all time.”
Interestingly, Fred Rowley, now a Cedar City resident, received a similar gift during his time in Santa Clara when his children were still small.
“I got a skinny Sycamore tree that my wife and I planted in the red sand that was in our backyard,” Rowley said. “That tree grew into the most beautiful tree. One year the whole family took a family picture sitting under that tree. My daughter then took that photo and made a beautiful frame for me that said, ‘our family tree.’ That was one of my most favorite gifts.”
So, while national numbers show consumer spending for dads this holiday may be at an all-time high, many Southern Utah fathers appear to be content to quietly celebrate Father’s Day with their families unwrapping single gifts from their children.
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