Valentine’s Day’s Popularity May Be Slipping, But Spending Is Way Up

Today is Valentine’s Day and love—and Valentine’s Day-associated advertising campaigns—is in the air. With so many promotional opportunities surrounding this holiday, measuring its popularity among consumers provides valuable insights into its utility as a marketing angle, and according to a survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF), adults are less into it than they used to be. In 2009, 72 percent of adults aged 18-34 and 65 percent of those 35-54 planned on celebrating Valentine’s Day. This year, however, only 51 percent of adults under 55 have plans for the holiday. But those who do celebrate are expected to spend a record-high average of $161.96, up 13 percent from 2018.

While celebrating Valentine’s Day in the traditional sense has waned, many are marking it in some way. The NRF found that 25 percent of those not celebrating plan on treating themselves, spending time with single friends or purchasing “anti-Valentine’s” gifts. Gifts for pets also continue to be popular, purchased by 20 percent of consumers. Pet spending is expected to total $886 million, up $519 million since NRF first asked in 2008.

“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,” says NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “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.”

Of the $18.40 increase in average spending between 2018 and 2019, only $4.26 comes from spending on spouses and significant others, which is expected to total $93.24. Consumers said they would spend $29.87 on other family members, up $4.58; $9.78 on friends, up $2.59; $8.63 on children’s classmates or teachers, up $1.37; $7.78 on co-workers, up $2.99; $6.94 on pets, up $1.44; and $5.72 on others, up $1.17.

As in each year of the survey, men are 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 one percent and 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.

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