WASHINGTON – Just over half (52%) of U.S. adults plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, spending a total of $21.8 billion, according to the annual survey released Thursday by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
“There is no question the pandemic has disrupted many aspects of Americans’ daily interactions and activities,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “However, there remains a special significance around Valentine’s Day, and consumers are committed to celebrating friends and loved ones, even if that means having to alter those traditional holiday celebrations.”
Nearly three-quarters (73%) of consumers celebrating Valentine’s Day this year feel it is important to do so given the current state of the pandemic. It is clear the virus is still front and center, with 74% indicating it will directly impact their plans for the holiday. Those celebrating can still expect the classic candy, cards and flowers, but there is a significant decline in the number of consumers who will plan for an evening out. Less than one-quarter (24%) of consumers plan to gift their loved one with an evening out, the lowest in the survey’s history. Even still, 41% say they will plan a special dinner or celebration in the comfort of their own home.
Because of these altered plans, it is no surprise that spending on Valentine’s Day gifts this year has dropped. Those celebrating plan to spend an average $164.76, down $32 on average per person, from a record $196.31 in 2020 right before the pandemic hit.
With consumers planning fewer evenings out, spending on significant others saw the biggest drop this year, down an average of $13 year over year. Further proof of COVID-19’s impact on spending plans is the decrease in spending on teachers, classmates and co-workers, as many continue to social distance. Consumers say they will spend an average of $10.77 on their children’s classmates and teachers, down from $14.45 last year. Additionally, they plan to spend an average of $8.47 on colleagues, down from $12.96 in 2020.
“Consumers still feel it’s important to spoil their loved ones in light of the pandemic,” Prosper Insights executive vice president of strategy Phil Rist said. “This year’s total and average spending figures are near record highs, as the second highest in the survey’s history.”
This year, online is the most popular Valentine’s Day shopping destination, visited by 39 percent, followed by department stores (29%), discount stores (28%t) and local small businesses and specialty stores tied (17%t). This year is the first time consumers listed small businesses as a top-five shopping destination since the question was added to the survey in 2015.
The survey of 7,882 adult consumers was conducted January 4-12 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.