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Despite an upward tick in consumer spending on Valentine's Day in recent years, the number of those that say they are celebrating the holiday is down. Freeuse photo

Valentine's Day trends

Spending rises as celebrating declines
Thursday, February 14, 2019

Whether you love it or loathe it, Valentine’s Day is here.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), U.S. consumers are expected to spend a record-breaking $20.7 billion – on average, roughly $162 per person – on Valentine's Day gifts this year. 

Flowers, candy and dinner dates still make up the most spending amongst shoppers, but more unorthodox gifts are not out of the question for consumers now days. According to the NRF, pet spending will total $886 million this year, and experience-type gifts, like tickets to events or a trip to a spa, will be gifted by 25 percent of consumers.

WalletHub conducted a nationally representative online survey to learn more about exactly how consumers are approaching Valentine’s Day 2019 –  from what people plan to buy and how much they plan to spend to financial turnoffs and how money problems affect relationships.

According to the survey results, 46 percent of people would break up with their significant other if he or she spent irresponsibly and 53 percent said they would not marry someone with bad credit. Women are also 33 percent more likely than men to spend $0 on a Valentine’s Day gift, according to the survey, while men are two times more likely than women to spend over $100.

In addition to the differences between consumers’ gift-spending preferences, there are differences among generations when it comes to celebrating the holiday. 

Despite the ever-present red and pink hearts, Valentine’s Day in 2019 looks very different than it did a decade ago. In 2009, 72 percent of adults aged 18-34 and 65 percent of those 35-54 said they planned to celebrate Valentine’s Day, compared to the only 51 percent of Americans that plan to celebrate the holiday this year. But even as celebrating the holiday declines, spending for the holiday has continued to rise.

Several factors may be influencing consumers’ interest in commemorating the day. According to a 2017 poll conducted by NRF, the top reasons consumers chose not to celebrate Valentine’s Day were that they considered it over-commercialized, didn’t have anyone to celebrate with or simply weren’t interested anymore.

While more consumers say they are not officially “celebrating” on Feb. 14, many will still mark the event in some way. Twenty-five percent of those who aren’t celebrating admit they still plan to treat themselves to something special, hold a get-together with other single friends or even purchase an “anti-Valentine’s Day” gift. These types of activities are even more popular among younger consumers — the same age groups who appear to be driving a decline in Valentine’s Day celebrations.  More than a third of those under the age of 35 who say they are not “celebrating” still have plans to splurge on themselves or spend time with other single friends.

But even as fewer consumers have official Valentine’s Day plans, those who do celebrate are spending more than ever. Between 2009 and 2019, the average amount consumers planned to spend on Valentine’s Day gifts increased by $60. While gifts for a significant other are still an important part of the holiday, much of the increase is being driven by gifts for other loved ones. Today Valentine’s Day is about sharing the love with everyone — from gifts for friends and family to cards for coworkers and children’s classmates and, of course, special treats for pets.

Some of these gifts will take the form of more traditional items like jewelry, flowers and candy that are always popular for the holiday, but consumers are also looking to give a special experience. Among those celebrating Valentine’s Day, a quarter plan to give a “gift of experience” such as concert tickets or a day at the spa this year. It’s significantly more popular among younger consumers — 39 percent of those 18-24 and 45 percent of those 25-34 plan to give an experiential gift.

For more information about the studies go to Wallethub's website, and the NRF’s website.

San Marcos Record

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