It’s lucky you can’t measure love with money – because Australian dads would be feeling a bit sore this coming Father’s Day.
The holiday is expected to trigger an $800 million spending boom, but Australians consistently spend less on dad than mum, reveals an analysis by Queensland University of Technology’s School of Advertising, Marketing and PR.
It comes as some retailers say the pandemic may be slowly turning the tide on unequal, unpaid labour, with more men asking for gifts that help out their families in the home.
QUT retail expert Gary Mortimer said research by the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and market research firm Roy Morgan calculated Australians planned to spend an average of $93 on dad this year, about 10 per cent less than we normally spend on mum.
Finder.com research earlier this year found Australians on average spent about $102 on their mums for Mother’s Day.
Similar results are evident in other parts of the world, including the United States, where the National Retail Federation (NRF) found Americans spent more on mum, a total of $33 billion dollars, compared to $21 billion on dad.
“The other interesting statistic is that we appear less inclined to celebrate dad. Here in Australia, only about 40 per cent of people (+18 years) plan to buy a gift for dad this year,” Professor Mortimer said.
“Similarly, in the US, the NRF found 76 per cent of people plan to celebrate Father’s Day, compared to 84 per cent who celebrated Mother’s Day.
Queensland dads who do receive a gift will have more spent on them than those in other states, Professor Mortimer said.
“Research indicates Queenslanders are set to spend about $112 on dad this year,” he said.
“South Australian dads, meanwhile, should only expect half that amount spent on gifts for them.
“NSW and Victorian dads are more likely to get a gift. However, Tassie dads shouldn’t hold their breath, with the research showing over 70 per cent of people there don’t plan to buy a gift at all this year.”
For fathers, whether they have daughters or sons could be the deciding factor in whether they get a gift this Sunday.
“The ARA/Roy Morgan data shows daughters (47 per cent) are more inclined to buy dad a gift this year, compared to sons (34 per cent),” Professor Mortimer said.
“This is not surprising given the more prominent role of women in gift-giving.”
Gift-giving behaviour is bound up in gender roles and social construction, Professor Mortimer explained.
“Studies conducted over the past 50 years suggest gender differences in relation to gift exchanges can be attributed to differences in the ways males and females experience their early social environment, an environment viewed as largely dominated by females who carry the primary responsibility for early childcare,” he said.
Roles are changing, so are gifts
Last year, reports by both the United Nations and the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed women had picked up most of the extra housework.
Last year, Australian women were almost twice as likely as men to do more than five hours of unpaid housework, and twice as likely as men to spend more than 20 hours caring for their children.
But some retailers say they are seeing an uptick in interest from men in helping out around the home.
James Cheney, founder of online store Kleva Range, said his outfit had seen the “biggest shift” in present giving – away from tools and sporting gear to household and cooking appliances.
“Household roles have changed quite a bit during the pandemic,” he said.
“With kids being home-schooled, people working from home, couples having to juggle different hours to accommodate zooms at all hours, things are hectic.”
Sydney woman Carol Thompson said she has seen this change in her household.
For many years Mrs Thompson purchased for her husband tools, gardening equipment, sporting items and collectibles for Father’s Day. This year she has changed up her approach.
“I’ve told the kids we need to get dad something that he’ll use in lockdown that will make life easier at home,” Mrs Thompson said.
“In 25 years of marriage, he’s never cooked before. During lockdown, he’s actually started to cook.
“He’s been on YouTube looking up how to brown onions, how to clean saucepans and even how to make curries.”