According to the findings of an annual survey commissioned by the National Retail Federation (NRF) of the US, and conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, Americans are expected to spend a record amount on Valentine’s Day this year “despite a years-long decrease in the percentage of people celebrating the holiday”.
“The vast majority of Valentine’s Day dollars are still spent on significant others, but there’s a big increase this year in consumers spreading the love to children, parents, friends, and co-workers,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Those who are participating are spending more than ever and that could be the result of the strong economy. With employment and income growth, consumers appear to be expanding the scope of who qualifies for a card or a box of candy.”
The survey found that the respondents who will be celebrating Valentine’s Day would be spending an average US$161.96 this year; higher by 13% from last year’s average spend of US$143.56. This year’s projected figure also tops the previous record of US$146.84 set in 2016. Total spending is expected to be US$20.7 billion, which marks an increase of 6% over last year’s US$19.6 billion and breaks the previous record of US$19.7 billion, also set in 2016.
NRF’s survey found that only 51% of Americans plan to celebrate the holiday, down from 55% last year and a high of 63% in 2007. “It is unclear why the number of consumers celebrating has trended downward over the past 12 years, but spending, while varying with the economy, has generally trended up,” remarked NRF. “The lowest spending during the period was US$102.50 in 2009 during the Great Recession.”
Interestingly, of the US$18.40 increase in average spending, only US$4.26 comes from spending on spouses and significant others, which is expected to total US$93.24. “Consumers said they would spend US$29.87 on other family members, up US$4.58; US$9.78 on friends, up US$2.59; US$8.63 on children’s classmates or teachers, up US$1.37; US$7.78 on co-workers, up US$2.99; US$6.94 on pets, up US$1.44 and US$5.72 on others, up US$1.17.”
This year too, as in previous years, men emerged as the biggest spenders at US$229.54, up 20% from last year. That’s more than double the US$97.77 (down 1% from the previous year) than women said they would spend.
Looking at expected spends by age groups, the survey found that those between 35-44 years are slotted to be the biggest Valentine spenders at US$279.14; followed by those between 25-34 years at US$239.07. “Both groups typically have more people to buy for including children and children’s classmates or teachers,” NRF explained.
Also, gifts for pets continue to be popular, purchased by 20%. “Pet spending is expected to total US$886 million, up US$519 million since NRF first asked in 2008,” the organisation observed.
Looking at total spend figures, NRF said those celebrating plan to spend US$3.9 billion on jewellery (given by 18% as gifts), US$3.5 billion on an evening out (34%), US$2.1 billion on clothing (18%), US$1.9 billion on flowers (35%), US$1.8 billion on candy (52%), US$1.3 billion on gift cards (%) and US$933 million on greeting cards (44%).
Gifts of experience such as tickets to an event or a trip to a spa are desired/wanted by 40% and planned to be given by 25%.
Department stores are the most popular Valentine’s Day shopping destination, visited by 35% of shoppers, followed by discount stores (32%), online (27%), specialty stores (18%) florists (16%), small or local businesses (14%), jewellery stores and specialty clothing stores (each 9%).
Even among those who don’t plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day as such, 11% plan to treat themselves to gifts like clothing or jewellery and 9% plan to get together with other single friends or family, NRF found.
“Valentine’s Day means different things for different people,” Prosper Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “Whether it’s a day of romance or one of making sure their children have enough cards in their backpacks for each of their classmates, it’s an important day for those who choose to participate.”