Valentine’s Day PR—confident consumers means record spending plans

by | Feb 10, 2020 | Public Relations

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 a new survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and research partner Prosper Insights & Analytics.

“Valentine’s Day is a sentimental tradition, but gift-giving can be driven by the economy,” said Matthew Shay, NRF President and CEO, in a news 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.”

How much will we spend?

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.

Who are we buying for?

The biggest share of Valentine’s spending still goes to spouses and significant others at 52 percent 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 percent 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 percent of the total from 3 percent. The share for pets has also doubled, to 6 percent from 3 percent in the same time period.

Consumers say they will spend an average $30.19 on family members other than spouses, up slightly 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.

Twenty-seven percent say they will buy Valentine’s gifts for their pets, the highest figure in the history of the survey and up from 17 percent in 2010 for a total $1.7 billion.

“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.

What are we buying?

Shoppers plan to spend $5.8 billion on jewelry (given by 21 percent), $4.3 billion on an evening out (34 percent), $2.9 billion on clothing (20 percent), $2.4 billion on candy (52 percent), $2.3 billion on flowers (37 percent), $2 billion on gift cards (19 percent) and $1.3 billion on greeting cards (43 percent). Gifts of experience such as tickets to an event or a trip to a spa are wanted by 41 percent and planned by 28 percent.

Department stores are the most popular Valentine’s Day shopping destination, visited by 36 percent, with discount stores and online tied at 32 percent, specialty stores at 19 percent, florists at 17 percent, local small business at 15 percent and clothing stores and jewelry shops tied at 11 percent.

The Valentine’s Day survey results follow a 4.1 percent year-over-year increase in 2019 holiday sales—nearly double the 2.1 percent increase in 2018 holiday sales.

The survey of 7,267 adult consumers was conducted January 2-9 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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