Families will show the love to mom this Mother’s Day by shelling out more for gifts, giving local retailers a boost.

It’s not a sign that the economy is in full recovery, but it’s an indicator that consumers are inching toward feeling more confident about their finances, said Ron Prescott, retail and small business specialist at Iowa State University Extension office.

“The economy as a whole is still sluggish, but people are spending more during special holidays like Mother’s Day,” he said.

The trend line for all retail spending is still relatively sluggish, however. Retail sales in April were up less than 1 percent after a more promising start to sales in the early part of the year.

“Consumers are hesitant to get themselves into any kind of retail debt,” Prescott said.

The National Retail Federation, the trade association that represents retailers large and small, said shoppers are expected to spend $18.6 billion on Mother’s Day gifts this year. Average spending on Mother’s Day gifts is expected to be $152.52, up from $140.73 last year. Mother’s Day is Sunday.

“I think Iowa retailers will see an increase in sales,” he said. “The survey indicates two areas of retail spending growth – jewelry and consumer electronics.”

The traditional mom gifts like flowers, cards and dining out continue to be popular among shoppers, but the amount spent on those things remained relatively flat over the past five years. Jewelry and electronics showed a 70 percent increase over 2007, Prescott said.

Electronics, particularly cameras and iPads and other electronic tablets, are popular with men buying Mother’s Day gifts, said Levi Denny, who works in the electronics department at American TV and Appliance store in Johnston.

The recent release of the iPad 3 has increased interest in getting mom the latest version of the tablet, he said. “It’s popular because it’s versatile and a great place to keep pictures of the family.”

Mother’s Day sales are some of the most important at the Brighton Collectibles store at Jordan Creek Town Center.

“We’ve seen an increase in traffic,” said Sandy Waddill, Brighton store manager. The store is offering special promotions, as they do every Mother’s Day, which is helping boost business, she said.

“Jewelry is a personal gift that Dad and the kids can come in and pick out together,” she said.

Along with selecting presents for mom, the retail federation said survey respondents said they would be buying Mother’s Day gifts for sisters and daughters that are mothers this year. “That’s also new customers for retailers,” Prescott said.