Love is definitely in the air for consumers this year as Valentine's Day spending has reached record levels.
“Valentine’s Day is a sentimental tradition, but gift-giving can be driven by the economy,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay says. “Consumers spent freely during the 2019 winter holidays and they appear ready to do the same in the new year. The same strong employment numbers and higher wages that boosted holiday sales should make it easier to spend a little extra to say ‘I love you’ this year and to spread the gift-giving beyond just your significant other.”
Those celebrating the holiday said they plan to spend an average $196.31, up 21 percent over last year’s previous record of $161.96. Spending is expected to total $27.4 billion, up 32 percent from last year’s record $20.7 billion.
The unusually large increase in average spending appears to be due to strong consumer finances and a continued trend of consumers buying more gifts, cards, candy and flowers for friends, family, co-workers and pets. The increase in total spending comes as the number of people celebrating Valentine’s Day returned to 55 percent, about average for the past decade, after a dip to 51 percent last year.
The biggest share of Valentine's spending still goes to spouses and significant others with 52% of the total, or an average $101.21, up from $93.24 in 2019. However, the share of the spending is down from 61% a decade ago, while spending on other recipients has gone up. The share for pets has doubled from 3% to 6% over the last 10 years as well.
Consumers are expected to spend an average $30.19 on family members other than spouses, up from $29.87 last year; $14.69 on friends, up from $9.78; $14.45 on children's classmates and teachers, up from $8.63; $12.96 on co-workers, up from $7.78; $12.21 on pets, up from $6.94, and $10.60 on others, up from $5.72.
“We’ve always heard of puppy love, but pets are definitely seeing a larger share of Valentine’s Day spending,” Prosper Insights Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “Husbands and wives don’t need to be worried if their spouses are buying a Valentine’s Day gift for someone else – most likely it’s greeting cards for their children’s class at school, flowers for a family member or maybe a treat for the family dog.”
The youngest Valentine’s shoppers surveyed – those ages 18-24 – plan to spend an average $109.31. But those 25-34 – old enough to have higher incomes and children to buy for – expect to spend $307.51 and are topped out by those 35-44 as the biggest spenders at $358.78. As in each year of the survey, men plan to spend more than women at $291.15 compared with $106.22.
Shoppers plan to spend $5.8 billion on jewelry (given by 21%), $4.3 billion on an evening out (34%), $2.9 billion on clothing (20%), $2.4 billion on candy (52%), $2.3 billion on flowers (37%), $2 billion on gift cards (19%) and $1.3 billion on greeting cards (43%). Gifts of experience such as tickets to an event or a trip to a spa are wanted by 41% and planned by 28%.
The Valentine’s Day survey results follow a 4.1% year-over-year increase in 2019 holiday sales, nearly double the 2.1% increase in 2018 holiday sales.