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US Retailers Hope For Strong Mother's Day Sales

Scene inside a flower shop in Washington, DC

Mother’s Day is a popular spring holiday in the U.S., a time when families get together and honor mom with cards, flowers and gifts. It is also big business, one of the biggest weekends for retail sales. After several years of stagnant sales, retailers have seen signs of growth in the last two quarters. They are counting on strong Mother’s Day sales this year to bring more confidence to the overall economy.

Trish Schutz is co-owner of Kron Chocolatier, a Hungarian chocolate shop in Washington D.C. known for its truffles.

"They are not the prettiest piece, but they are butter, rum, cream, and chocolate," she said.

Like many retail stores in the U.S., Kron felt the pinch from the recession. Sales have declined the past few years. But Mother’s Day is approaching and it's a big holiday in the US where mothers are honored with gifts of chocolate, flowers, and greeting cards. Trish is hoping for strong sales.

"Last year, we took a hit, it wasn’t great. This year I see it coming back now. We have done much better since the beginning of January than last year. So, things are improving," Schutz said.

Trish Schutz has reason to be optimistic, according to the National Retail Federation, which tracks retail sales in the U.S. Sales have been increasing steadily for the last nine months as the U.S. economy recovers. Mother’s Day accounts for a large part of May revenues for retailers.

"This year, Mother’s Day spending is expected to be near pre-recession levels. So, the average person will spend about $140 on moms for Mother’s Day, meaning total spending will reach about 16 billion. That is similar to the numbers we saw in 2007 before the economy really fell through," said Ellen Davis, Vice President of the Federation.

The Federation says this year it expects a return to more expensive Mother’s Day gifts, such as clothing, jewelry, and electronics like smart phones and tablets. But the basics for Mother’s Day are still cards and flowers.

Johnson’s Florist is one of the oldest flower shops in Washington D.C., They're stocking up now for what is usually a big weekend of sales. Don Schirm has been a floral designer here for 50 years. He says Mother's Day is one of the busiest times.

"Mother's Day is probably the biggest holiday for a weekend. Everyone has a mother supposedly. So, it is a very special day," Schirm said.

Strong Mother’s Day sales could spell good news for the U.S. economy. The Federation says retail sales account for two-thirds of U.S. GDP, and retailers employ more than 20 million people. Economists say getting retailers back on track is critical to the economic recovery.

One more thing retailers hope they can thank their mothers for this year.