- The Washington Times - Friday, May 6, 2005

Move over flowers — a new gang of gifts is in town.

More consumers are opting away from traditional gifts like jewelry and perfume this year in favor of cell phones, digital cameras and IPods.

“Electronics aren’t just for dad anymore,” said Scott Krugman, a spokesman for the National Retail Federation.

Consumers are expected to spend $11.43 billion this year on Mother’s Day, a 9.5 percent increase from last year, with $700 million being spent on “electronic gizmos.”

“It’s a big industry, there are more spending categories this year, and people aren’t just buying for mom; they’re buying for grandmothers, sisters, friends,” Mr. Krugman said.

Half of consumers plan to stick with flowers and greeting cards, but 25.5 percent of Mother Day’s sales are expected to be on electronic gifts, according to the retail trade association.

Cell phone companies, such as Verizon Wireless and Cingular, are hoping to get a piece of the growing Mother’s Day market by offering — and heavily advertising — deals on certain phone models and additional phone lines.

Clarence Jefferson, a spokesman for Verizon, said consumers have been checking out two-for-one deals on camera phones as the perfect gift for mom.

Alexa Kaufman, a spokeswoman for Cingular, said the popularity of family plans and the ability to share minutes have helped make cell phones popular Mother’s Day gifts.

“Used to be cell phones were just for the stock broker who couldn’t get away from the office and needed to check his portfolio, but now there are tons of moms out there who use them to keep in touch with their families,” she said.

A cell phone is just the thing that Patty Hetzler, an Ellicott City, Md., mom, would love to get as a gift.

“I’d love anything my daughter gave me, but if someone said, ‘Go pick out a phone, we’ll pay for it,’ I’d let them,” she said.

Cell phones aren’t the only electronic gifts that children are scouting for the women who raised them. Radio Shack, Best Buy and Circuit City are offering deals on digital cameras, flat screen TVs and IPods.

“People in this area leave shopping till the last minute usually, but we are selling a lot of technical stuff for moms,” said Kino Williams, a manager at a Radio Shack in Southwest.

Even though he already gave his mom her Mother’s Day gift, Ryan Short of Columbia, Md., was looking Thursday night at digital cameras for down the road.

“My parents have a really large camera, and something smaller would be nice for them,” he said.

Despite the new options, some people prefer to stick to tradition.

“My husband’s mom doesn’t even have e-mail. The most technical gift I would get her would be one of those pocket games. This year I just sent her some bath stuff,” said Rena Krause from Ft. Meade, Md.

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