Cautious Consumers to Keep Cupid at Bay This Year?

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Valentine's DayWashington–Love may be in the air, but consumers are still hesitant to inhale deeply and open their wallets too much wider than they did in 2012.

In its annual Valentine’s Day survey conducted by BIGinsight,  The National Retail Federation (NRF) discovered consumers estimate that will spend only slightly more this year than they did in 2012. According to the survey, the average person plans to spend $130.97 on candy, cards, gifts etc., up from $126.03 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $18.6 billion.*

“Valentine’s Day remains one of the biggest gift-giving holidays of the year, and although consumers will be conscientious with their spending, it’s great to see that millions of Americans are still looking forward to celebrating with their loved ones,” said Matthew Shay, president/ceo at NRF. “Recognizing their customers will shop for both price and value, retailers and restaurants will offer plenty of promotions for anyone looking to spoil those that mean the most to them this February 14th.”

This year, consumers say they will spend on a mix of traditional and non-traditional Valentine’s Day gifts. More than half (51%) of gift givers will buy candy, spending $1.6 billion in total, and another one-third (36.6%) will give flowers, with total spending expected to top $1.9 billion.

In the fashion arena, about 19.7% said they would spend on jewelry for that someone special, spending more than $4.4 billion on diamonds, gold and silver. An additional 15.6% will buy apparel, spending more than $1.6 billion.

Gift cards—the gift that keeps on giving—will also be on the top of shoppers’ lists; 15% of gift givers will buy gift cards for their loved ones, amounting to some $1.5 billion.

Asked about where they will shop for Valentine’s Day, more consumers will be buying online this year. The survey found 26.3% of those celebrating this year plan to shower their loved ones with gifts found online, up from 19.3% last year and the highest in the survey’s 10-year history, the NRF said.

Spending In Addition to Significant Others

Consumers will be hitting the stores, too, including discount stores (39.6%), department stores (33.2%), specialty stores (22.9%), floral shops (19.6%), jewelry stores (11.2%), specialty clothing stores (7.5%) and catalogs (2.6%), the survey found.

Interestingly, not all Valentine’s Day spending is on couples. In fact, the survey found that while consumers play to spend an average of $73.75 on their significant other, 60.6% of shoppers plan to show their appreciation for other family members and will spend an average of $26.46. One-quarter (25.2%) of celebrants will buy gifts for friends, spending an average of $8.49.

Still another 13.2% say they will buy Valentine’s Day gifts for their co-workers, planning to shell out an average of $5.12 on their colleagues. Consumers haven’t forgotten about their four-legged friends either: two in five (20%) Americans plan to buy gifts for their pets this year, with total spending expected to reach $815 million, the NRF found.

The average man who has been hit by Cupid’s arrow will spend significantly more than the average woman this year. Men will spend an average of $175.61 on jewelry, flowers, a romantic evening out and more, while their counterparts will spend approximately $88.78.

“The mantra ‘it’s the thought that counts,’ might be most applicable for holidays like Valentine’s Day, and there’s no question that this year’s budget-conscious gift givers will keep this in mind while out looking for the perfect gift,” says Pam Goodfellow, director of consumer insights at BIGinsight. “There will be no shortage of deals in the coming days, so frugal consumers will keep a keen eye out for promotions on chocolates, flowers and even dining.

Additionally, four in 10 (40.7%) smartphone owners will use their handhelds to shop for gifts, and 46.9% of tablet owners will use their devices to purchase items, research gift ideas and more.

About the Survey

The NRF 2013 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey conducted for NRF by BIGinsight was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to Valentine’s Day. The poll of 5,815 consumers was conducted from January 2 to 9. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.3 percentage points.

As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad.
* Total extrapolation of U.S. population 18+

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