U.S. consumers are expected to spend $20.7 billion for Valentine’s Day, up 6% from a year ago. The record spending this year equates to an average of $161.96 per person surveyed, rising 13% from 2018. That said, the number of consumers planning to celebrate the holiday continues to decline, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).
NRF said the spending increase comes even though only 51% of Americans plan to celebrate the holiday, down from 55% last year and a high of 63% in 2007. The trade group said 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. The lowest spending during the period was $102.50 per person in 2009 during the Great Recession.
“Those who are participating are spending more than ever and that could be the result of the strong economy,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “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 coworkers. With employment and income growing, consumers appear to be expanding the scope of who qualifies for a card or a box of candy.”
The survey indicated the biggest spend per person is for a significant other or spouse at $93.24, which is $4.26 more than the figure reported last year. Consumers said they would spend $29.87 on other family members, up $4.58. They are also spending more this year on friends at $9.78, with children’s classmates spending rising to $8.63 and $7.78 on co-workers. Even family pets will get treated this year with an average spend of $6.94. Pet spending is expected to total $886 million, up $519 million since NRF first asked in 2008.
Men are bigger spenders on average more than women. The male average spend rose 20% from a year ago to $229.54. NRF said that’s more than double the $97.77 women will spend.
Jewelry is the biggest category spend projected at $3.9 billion this year, which will be given by 18% of those surveyed. Another $3.4 billion will be spent on an evening out celebrated by 34% of respondents. Consumers will spend $2.1 billion on clothing and 35% will spend a combined $1.9 billion on flowers. Roughly 52% will give the traditional box of candy for a total spend of $1.8 billion. Gift cards will be given by 15% totaling $1.3 billion. Valentine cards will be given by 44% of consumers totaling $933 million in retail sales.
Respondents were asked what they wanted most for the holiday and 40% said they preferred gifts of experience over flowers and candy. Just 25% said they were giving experiential gifts like spa days or concert tickets.
“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.”
Among those who don’t plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day, 11% plan to treat themselves to gifts like clothing or jewelry and 9% plan to get together with other single friends or family.
Another survey by Offers.com found 58% of consumers plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day with spending up about 5% this year. This survey found flowers as the most commonly given gift to significant others. The average person will spend $58 on Valentine’s Day purchases this year, and engaged people plan to spend the most on average at $88 per person, according to the Offers.com survey.
The survey found Walmart was the top destination for Valentine’s Day purchases, other than flowers. ProFlower shoppers (75%) said they plan to give roses for an average cost of $35. Chocolate covered strawberries (dozen) are also a consumer favorite for an average cost of $27.