American consumers will show a lot of love for Valentine’s Day this year, new data from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics reveals.
Shoppers are expected to spend a record $20.7 billion, up 6 percent from $19.6 billion in 2018. The previous record, $19.7 billion, was set in 2016.
Valentine’s Day observers plan to spend $3.9 billion on jewelry (given by 18 percent), $3.5 billion on an evening out (34 percent), $2.1 billion on clothing (18 percent), $1.9 billion on flowers (35 percent), $1.8 billion on candy (52 percent), $1.3 billion on gift cards (15 percent) and $933 million on greeting cards (44 percent). Gifts of experience such as tickets to an event or a trip to a spa are wanted by 40 percent and planned to be given by 25 percent.
Survey respondents said they’d spend, on average, $161.96, up 13 percent from $143.56 in 2018. The record for individual averages, $146.84, was also set in 2016.
“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,” 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 growing, consumers appear to be expanding the scope of who qualifies for a card or a box of candy.”
The record spending comes as only 51 percent of Americans plan to celebrate the holiday, down from 55 percent last year and a high of 63 percent in 2007. The NRF said it’s unclear why the number of celebrating consumers has dropped over the last 12 years, while spending, varying with the economy, has generally trended up. The lowest spending average spending, $102.50, came in 2009 during the Great Recession.
Men are projected to be the biggest spenders at $229.54, up 20 percent from last year. That’s more than double the $97.77 women said they would spend, which is down 1 percent, and is within the survey’s margin of error.
Among age groups, those 35-44 are the biggest Valentine spenders at $279.14, followed by those 25-34 at $239.07. Both groups typically have more people to buy for including children and children’s classmates or teachers.
Gifts for pets continue to be popular, purchased by 20 percent. Pet spending is expected to total $886 million, up $519 million since NRF first asked in 2008.
Department stores are the most popular Valentine’s Day shopping destination, visited by 35 percent of shoppers, followed by discount stores (32 percent), online (27 percent), specialty stores (18 percent) florists (16 percent), small or local businesses (14 percent), jewelry stores and specialty clothing stores (each 9 percent).
Even among those who don’t plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day, 11 percent plan to treat themselves to gifts like clothing or jewelry and 9 percent plan to get together with other single friends or family.
“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.”