Aunts spending more on nieces, nephews

(WJLA) - The holiday shopping season is heating up, and with just 19 days left until Christmas, stores nationwide are targeting almost every demographic.

This year, many stores, including Best Buy, are going after aunts who are spending on their nieces and nephews. In fact, there's a new word for it - PANK.

One in five women in America - upwards of 23 million people - are considered PANKs, which stands for "professional aunt/no kids." Retail experts say that they have immense spending power, dropping $9 million on their nieces and nephews per year.

Retail analysts break it down to a level where some aunts spend anywhere from $300 to $500 per child.

The term was coined by Author Melanie Notkin, who wrote a book called Savvy Auntie. Notkin, who has six nieces and nephews, always thought she would be married with kids, but it hasn't yet happened.

"There is a trend of women who want to exercise their maternal muscle on the children in their life," Notkin said.

One of those is self-admitted PANKs is Bethesda resident Ann McClure; she adores her 3-year-old niece and infant nephew, but didn't want kids of her own.

"I'm ridiculous," McClure admits. "It's obsessive and obscene."

It's not just about spoiling kids around the holidays either, Notkin says. They also regularly contribute to their education funds and take them on trips.

"It's about time that marketers start to look at these women and inform them about what the kids they love, love," Notkin said.