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Happy Valentine's Day? Retailers Not Feeling the Love

Sales Trends for 2014 Are Lower


Couple walking with heart-shaped balloon
Cultura/Spark Photographic/Riser/Getty Images

Candy is the most popular purchase for Valentine's Day.


Fewer people bought jewelry in 2014.

Valentine's Day Sales Lower Than Last Year

People are planning to lavish attention on their loved ones this Valentine's Day, although they won't be spending much more than last year. In 2014, Valentine's Day is estimated to contribute around $17.3 billion to the economy, according to the National Retail Federation. This is lower than the $18.6 billion estimate for last year, and even lower than the $17.6 billion they spent on Valentine's Day 2012. That's because only 54% of Americans are even bothering to celebrate it this year, compared to 60% last year.

How Much Do People Plan to Spend on Valentine's Day?

Those who are celebrating are spending a bit more than last year -- $133.91 vs $130.97. As usual, men spend a lot more than women: $113.34 per guy v.s. $56.97 per gal. That's probably because men are, on average, higher earners. Those making $50,000 a year or more will spend $95.21 each, vs $64.65 per person making less than $50,000.

Younger people will spend more, as well. Those between 25-34 will spend $114.46 each, followed by those between 18-24, who will spend $104.15 each. Older folks spend less, so that those age 65+ only spend $58.45 each. 

What Do Lovers Buy on Valentine's Day?

The most popular purchase (48.7%) is candy, with lovers spending $22.18 each. More than a third (37.3%) will buy flowers, spending $40.20 each. Nearly as many (30%) will spend $74.19 each on a dinner out. 

Fewer than one in five (18.7%) are buying  the traditional romantic gift of jewelry, although they'll pay $162.03 each. Many preferr to buy gifts that last beyond the night -- 15.8% buy sweaters, winter accessories and other clothing, spending $84.48 each .

The least popular purchase is gift cards. Only 14% will buy this least-romantic gift, but they'll spend $64.51 each. At least these practical people can be sure that arguments over gifts won't spoil the evening's romance.

Where Do They Shop?

Even more people (40.9%) will head to discount stores than last year (39.6%). Less than a third will shop at department stores. Instead, they will go to a variety of stores, no doubt looking for bargains: specialty stores (21.4%), florists (19.6%), jewelry stores (9%) and specialty apparel stores (6%).

As they did during the Black Friday holiday weekend, many shoppers will head for their computers (16.3%). However, this is fewer than the 25% who went online last year, and the 19.3% the year before.

Mobile Devices on the Upswing

Just like Cyber Monday, shoppers use their mobile devices to share the love on-the-go. Nearly a third of  tablet owners (32.2%) will research products, prices, and retailer information, redeem coupons and purchase products with their device.Only 24% of smartphone users will do the same.. (Source: National Retail Federation, Consumers Keep Budgets in Check, February 4, 2014)

As BIGinsight Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow concludes, “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.” Just like the sales on Black Friday, retailers have stocked the shelves with deals in anticipation of value-conscious shoppers. Updated February 4, 2014

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