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Sixty-four percent of women said they would choose a digital camera over half-carat diamond stud earrings, according to a recent study.
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msnbc.com

What Mom really wants for Mother’s Day is shiny and expensive, but it’s not jewelry. Flowers, cards and perfume may still top sales, but gifts like digital cameras, cell phones and PDAs are climbing women’s wish lists for the spring holiday.

Image: MSNBC Reporter Jane Weaver
FLOWERS WILT AND greeting cards end up in the trash. But a digital camera or snazzy new camera cell phone last a lot longer than those sentimental favorites.

These days tech gadgets are a hotter accessory than jewelry.

A recent study by the Consumer Electronics Association found that 64 percent of women said they would choose a digital camera over half-carat diamond stud earrings.

Women’s interest in technology products is on the rise in general, with 42 percent expressing interest in consumer electronics, both established items like DVD players and newer gadgets like PDAs, the study found.

Mother’s Day is one of the largest sales holiday of the year for the floral and greeting card industries. For flowers, it’s second only to Christmas. But there’s a trend towards non-traditional gifts, with 21 percent of consumers planning to buy something other than clothing, jewelry and flowers, according to the National Retail Foundation. Some of those unusual gifts will be massages or spa accessories, but “consumer electronics could fall into that,” said the foundation’s Ellen Tolley.

Amazon vice president of merchandising Frank Sadowsky is surprised at the pre-Mother’s Day sales lift that Amazon has seen in its consumer electronics category in the last couple of years.

“Women and moms today are definitely realizing the benefits of higher tech products,” said Sadowsky, noting that a good digital camera which might have cost more than $500 a few years ago has now dropped to less than $300.

Simpler, more practical products are one reason.

“It used to be the more complex it was, the more the manufacturers liked it, but there’s been a huge shift in the way they look at technology products,” said Sadowsky. “The manufacturers realized that what [women] are interested in are products that are easy to use and solve problems.”

MOM THE PHOTOGRAPHER

Or take pictures.

This year will be the first year when Americans buy more digital still cameras than traditional film ones, according to the trade group Photo Marketing Association International. In families, women are the photo takers.

In a nationwide survey of “Moms and Dads” conducted by Circuit City in April, 60 percent of respondents agreed that Mom takes most of the family photos. Dads came in at 32 percent, with 8 percent of children acting as the family shutterbug.

Consumer electronics retailers Circuit City and Best Buy are mum on Mom’s Day trends, but the front page of the Circuit City Web site features items “guaranteed to make mom smile,” including a Kodak 3.1 digital camera and printer for $329.

A Best Buy spokeswoman would only say that digital products such as cameras, camcorders and imaging software make up 25 percent of total sales.

“The digital camera is the most popular Mother’s Day gift,” said Amazon’s Sadowsky.

A digital camera or camera cell phone may cost more than a bunch of flowers (although not if you add in the cost of a special dinner out), but even a struggling economy hasn’t put the squeeze on Mother’s Day gifts, the National Retail Foundation found.

The amount of money spent on Mother’s Day has doubled since 2000. This year American consumers plan to spend to an average of $100 compared to $49.90 three years ago. Men will spend more, almost $113.98 on their wives and mothers, compared to women who will spend an average of $81.69.

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