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Valentine’s Day shopper spending to dip

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WASHINGTON — Consumer spending on Valentine’s Day is expected to slip this year after a decade of annual increases, according to the National Retail Federation.

U.S. consumers are expected to spend an average of $136.57 on the holiday this year, according to the annual survey released by the NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics. That is down from last year’s record-high $146.84.

Total Valentine’s Day shopper spending is expected to reach $18.2 billion, down from $19.7 billion last year, which was also a record.

“Valentine’s Day continues to be a popular gift-giving occasion even if consumers are being more frugal this year,” NRF president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay said in a statement. “This is one day of the year when millions find a way to show their loved ones they care regardless of their budget. Consumers will find that retailers recognize that their customers are looking for the best deals and will offer good bargains just as they did during the holiday season.”

Starting at an average $119.67 for a total of $16.9 billion in 2007, Valentine’s Day retail spending grew most years over the past decade before hitting last year’s record. But the number of people surveyed who plan to celebrate the holiday has dropped by nearly 10 percentage points over the same period from 63% in 2007 to 54% this year.

shopping-destinationsThis year’s survey, which asked 7,591 consumers about their Valentine’s Day plans, found that shoppers plan to spend an average $85.21 on their significant other/spouse, $26.59 on other family members such as children or parents, $6.56 on children’s classmates/teachers, $6.51 on friends, $4.27 on co-workers, and $4.44 on pets.

Gifts of jewelry will account for the most money spent on the holiday, but more people are planning to buy candy, according to the survey. Consumers plan to spend $4.3 billion on jewelry (given by 19% of shoppers), $3.8 billion on an evening out (37%), $2 billion on flowers (35%), $1.9 billion on clothing (19%), $1.7 billion on candy (50%), $1.4 billion on gift cards/gift certificates (16%) and $1 billion on greeting cards (47%).

Also popular this year are “gifts of experience” such as tickets to a concert or sporting event, a gym membership or an outdoor adventure. But while 40% of consumers say they want an experience gift, only 24% plan to give one.

In terms of shopping destinations, the survey found that consumers plan to shop at department stores (35%), discount stores (32%), online (27%), specialty stores (18%), florists (18%), and local small businesses (15%).

“While fewer are planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, millions of shoppers will still make room in their budgets to spoil their loved ones,” Prosper Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow said. “Consumers can expect promotions on everything from flowers to date-night dinner packages in the coming days, leaving plenty of ideas for those looking to spoil their Valentines.”


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