Can’t Buy Me Love… But A Valentine’s Gift Couldn’t Hurt

Valentine’s Day spending will reach a survey high of $18.9 billion this year, the National Retail Federation reports.

Great songwriters have always opined that love is free — but when it comes to Valentine’s Day gifts, this year’s couples aren’t taking any chances.

The average person celebrating Valentine’s Day in 2015 will spend $142.31 on candy, flowers, apparel and more, up from $133.91 last year, says the National Retail Federation’s Valentine’s Day Consumer Spending Survey. Total spending is expected to reach $18.9 billion, a survey high, adds Prosper Insights and Analytics, which conducted the NRF report.

And while many shoppers (53.2 percent) plan to stick to the classic (and affordable) gift of candy, one in five (21.1 percent) intends to buy jewelry for a total of $4.8 billion — the highest amount seen since the NRF started tracking spending on Valentine’s gifts in 2010.

Retail Love

This is good news for retailers, says NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. Following the economic downturn of 2009, discretionary spending took a big hit, and purchasing gifts for smaller holidays like Valentine’s Day was one of the first places that customers cut back.

This year’s stats suggest that, fortunately, many people’s pockets have rebounded. Now, the challenge — and opportunity — for retailers is finding a way to make sure that shoppers choose to come into their store over another.

“Hoping to draw in eager shoppers, retailers will need to offer unique promotions on gifts, meal options at restaurants, and even experiences,” Shay says.

Some retailers have already begun their Valentine’s prep with targeted campaigns, like lingerie specialist Victoria’s Secret. We’ll likely see similar efforts in the form of Valentine’s-themed mobile marketing from department stores, one of the top reported shopping destinations in the NRF’s report.

As far as the full breakdown of shopper destinations, discount (35.2 percent) and department stores (36.5 percent) will be among the most visited locations for those looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift, as will specialty stores (19.4 percent) and florists (18.7 percent). One-quarter (25.1 percent) say they will shop online, and 13.3 percent plan to shop at a local or small business to find something unique for their loved ones.

Big Hearts For Small Biz

That final stat could mean big things for small businesses. If local shops do indeed see 13 percent (or more) of the holiday spending action, that’s quite a chunk of change. Location-based campaigns may have a big impact here, and it will be crucial to reach shoppers in the area who plan to pick out their gifts at a specialty store close to home.

And the Valentine’s spending spree isn’t just limited to shopping — more than one-third (35.1 percent) will spend on plans for a special night out, including movies and restaurants, totaling a $3.6 billion spend. Many restaurants are already planning special Valentine’s-night menus, and it’s likely that more eateries will offer some kind of promotion, like a discount or a “romance package” to entice couples to come in for the big night.

“It’s encouraging to see consumers show interest in spending on gifts and Valentine’s Day-related merchandise,” Shay concludes. “It’s a good sign for consumer sentiment as we head into 2015.”

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.