Valentine’s Day sales projected at new record of $18.9 billion

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 291 views 

American consumers are compassionate folks when it comes to celebrating Valentine’s Day. The National Retail Federation expects average per person spending to top $142.31 this year, up 6.3% from expenditures in 2014.

It seems women are in for the biggest treat this Valentine’s Day. Men will spend nearly double what women plan to spend – $190.53 versus $96.58 on average, respectively. 

Prosper Insights and Analytics notes cumulative sales should reach $18.9 billion, a high mark since their survey began in 2007.

“It’s encouraging to see consumers show interest in spending on gifts and Valentine’s Day-related merchandise — a good sign for consumer sentiment as we head into 2015,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Hoping to draw in eager shoppers, retailers will offer unique promotions on gifts, meal options at restaurants and even experiences.”

The report shows that 55% of adults plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, and that is evenly split among income and age demographics for those under 65 years old. 

One of the popular category gifts is candy as 53.2% of consumers plan to give sweet confections totaling $1.69 billion this year. Candy sales are projected to rise 4.5% from a year ago as consumers have more cash in their pockets from lower gasoline prices.

One in five, or 21.1% of consumers, plan to buy jewelry for a total of $4.8 billion, the highest amount seen since 2010. Last year jewelry sales totaled $3.9 billion. Also, 37.8% will buy flowers, spending a total of $2.1 billion, which is flat with a year ago. 

More than one-third (35.1%) will spend an average of $77 going out for the evening. That will add $3.6 billion dollars to the hospitality sector for movies, restaurants and other forms of entertainment.

“It’s great to see consumers coming out of their shell this year, looking to spend discretionary budgets on those they love once again, though I fully expect many to continue to look for ways to cut costs where they can,” said Prosper’s Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow. “While many will splurge, some will still look for simple and affordable ways to show their appreciation for friends and family and celebrate in a way they are most comfortable with.”

Celebrants will also spend nearly $2 billion on clothing and $1.5 billion on gift cards.

Spouses looking to treat their significant others comprise the biggest part of the spending plans this year with 91% committing an average $87.94 on gifts and entertainment for their loved one. Lover spending is expected to rise 12.6% from last year’s levels.

Consumers will also commit an average of $26.26 on other family members and $6.30 on children’s classmates and teachers. Pet lovers (21%) will spend a mere $5.28 on average for their beloved animals which equates to $703 million.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, history is unclear on who was the original Valentine, but the most popular theory is that he was a clergyman who was executed for secretly marrying couples in ancient Rome.

“In A.D. 496, Pope Gelasius I declared Feb. 14 as Valentine Day. Esther Howland, a native of Massachusetts, is given credit for selling the first mass-produced valentine cards in the 1840s,” notes a Valentine’s Day profile from the bureau.