NRF Valentine’s Forecast: Consumers Will Spend $18.2 Billion On The Holiday

That's down from $19.7 billion last year — but marketers can play into consumers' desires to spend more on meaningful experiences rather than jewelry.

After nearly a decade long increase, Valentine’s Day spending is projected to dip slightly this year, with consumers spending an average $136.57 per person for a total of $18.2 billion — down from last year’s record $19.7 billion, according to the NRF.

A majority of consumers still plan to celebrate the holiday with loved ones. As such, it’s likely that the shift in spending isn’t simply due to lack of interest; rather, the NRF’s survey findings suggest that people are increasingly prioritizing spending on experiences, whether that means buying sporting event tickets or planning a classic outing for a romantic meal.

Millennials in particular have shifted their spending from “things” to experiences — meaning that they’re less likely to buy the big ticket items like jewelry, which could account for the drop in Valentine’s spending overall. But that also means that they are more likely to plan an evening out in their community instead.

In fact, 15 percent plan to patronize a small business as part of their holiday prep, and over 36 percent are projected to have an evening out at a local eatery.

For these local SMBs, who see most of their action in the days right before  — or on — the 14th, it’s especially key to reach digital consumers across devices as they do research on mobile to make decisions leading up to the holiday. 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.

Additionally, restaurants can prioritize romantic “extras” to incentivize customers to book tables ahead of time. As GeoMarketing‘s David Kaplan wrote, eateries would do well to offer add-ons for advance bookings — like a complimentary glass of bubbly or dessert. Diners will be encouraged to book a couple of weeks out, and restaurant managers will have a better handle on the evening.

“Consumers can expect promotions on everything from date-night dinner packages [to flowers] in the coming days,” said Prosper analyst Pam Goodfellow, “leaving plenty of ideas for those looking to spoil their Valentines.”

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.