Record Spending Predicted for Valentine’s Day

Confident consumers and a broader buying lead will push gift-giving this Valentine’s Day.

January 31, 2020

WASHINGTON—Coming off a strong holiday season, Americans are expected to set another record for Valentine’s Day spending this year as they continue to widen the range of those they’re buying for, according to the annual survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

“Valentine’s Day is a sentimental tradition, but gift-giving can be driven by the economy,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in a press release. “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% over last year’s previous record of $161.96. Spending is expected to total $27.4 billion, up 32% 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%, about average for the past decade, after a dip to 51% last year.

The biggest share of Valentine’s spending still goes to spouses and significant others at 52% of the total, or an average $101.21 this year, up from $93.24 in 2019. But their share of the spending is down from 61% a decade ago. The share spent on most other recipients has gone up over the past decade, with the amount spent on co-workers, for example, more than doubling to 7% of the total from 3%. The share for pets has also doubled to 6% from 3% in the same time period.

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%.

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