Younger Generations Are Valuable Valentine’s Day Consumers

Millennials are the most likely generation to spend more than $200 on the holiday, and they are 49% more likely to buy experiential gifts.

February 08, 2022

Young Couple Celebrating Valentine's Day

CHICAGO—Younger generations are playing a pivotal role in holiday spending, according to a Numerator study. Millennials are significantly more likely than other generations to spend more than $200 on Valentine’s Day, while Gen X is more likely to spend in the $51-$200 range. Gen Z consumers are the most likely group to say they will increase their candy purchases for this year’s Valentine’s Day, with 32% planning to buy more candy than Valentine’s Day 2021 and 13% planning to buy significantly more.

The study also found that nearly half of consumers (48%) will shop online for Valentine’s Day, and, not surprisingly, Gen Z, millennials and Gen X are significantly more likely than boomers+ to shop online for Valentine’s Day. More than half of younger consumers plan to shop online retailers, compared to 36% of consumers ages 55-64 and 29% of consumers ages 65+.

Many consumers plan to return to in-store shopping, with 48% of consumers saying they will do their Valentine’s Day shopping online, down from 53% of consumers in 2021. The percentage of consumers planning to shop in-store increased over 2021 levels, led by dollar (+10 points), club (+7 points) and grocery (+4 points).

Consumers are planning to gift their loved ones this Valentine’s Day with candy (62%), cards (59%), food (52%), flowers (28%), alcoholic beverages (23%), clothes (15%), spa products (11%) and jewelry (10%). Gen Z and younger millennial consumers are 49% more likely than older generations to buy experiential gifts (e.g. concert tickets, travel), 29% more likely to buy alcohol, 23% more likely to buy clothes and 15% more likely to buy spa products. On the other side, younger generations are 17% less likely than older generations to purchase greeting cards for Valentine’s Day.

The study found that traditional Valentine’s gifts are showing multi-year declines among consumers. Electronics, accessories and jewelry showed the biggest drops in gifting for the second year in a row, while alcohol and food gifts increased in popularity. Flowers maintain a steady decline as a Valentine’s go-to gift. In February 2020, just under half of consumers (46%) planned to buy Valentine’s Day flowers, falling to 31% of consumers in 2021 and 28% in 2022, possibly a result of consumers spending more time at home.

Half of respondents expect rising prices to have a slight impact on their Valentine's Day shopping, and 24% expect a significant impact. To combat rising prices, 43% of consumers plan to look for promotions and coupons, 32% plan to shop at different retailers and 24% say they will buy in smaller quantities this year.

Over a third (36%) of those surveyed said they would be dining out to celebrate the holiday, which is up from 17% from Valentine’s Day 2021, and climbing back toward the 45% of consumers who planned to dine out in February 2020.

Pandemic behaviors like cooking at home and ordering delivery are sticking. Both cooking at home and ordering takeout food were the only two celebration plans to gain popularity during the pandemic, growing 10+ points from 2020 to 2021. In 2022, both showed only slight decreases, indicating that these behaviors may be lasting.