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Total consumer spending on Valentine’s Day is expected to just miss a record high this year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Based on its annual survey, the NRF expects consumers to spend a total of $19.6 billion on gifts this year, almost matching the survey high of $19.7 billion set in 2016.

This year’s $19.6 billion estimate represents an increase from last year’s $18.2 billion, as celebrants prepare themselves for more spending. The 55% of consumers who will celebrate this year expect to spend an average of almost $144, about $7 more each than last year.

Interestingly, the popularity of Valentine’s Day appears to have waned over the years. The 55% of adults reporting that they’ll celebrate is down from 63% in 2007, the first year the survey was fielded.

That won’t affect total spending, though, which was estimated to be $16.9 billion in 2007. (These figures are not adjusted for inflation, though.)

The most popular gift purchases for respondents are once again candy (55% planning to buy, up from 50% last year), greeting cards (46%), an evening out (35%) and flowers (36%).

Jewelry ($4.7 billion, up from $4.3 billion last year) is expected to account for the largest total outlay, once more, ahead of evenings out ($3.7 billion), flowers ($2 billion), candy ($1.8 billion), and clothing ($1.7 billion).

Worth noting is that about one-quarter of adults are planning to give a gift of an experience. Older Millennials (25-34), who plan to spend the most on Valentine’s Day ($203 on average), are the most likely to be giving gifts of experience (41%). That aligns with research indicating that young people tend to enjoy spending on experiences as opposed to just products.

Meanwhile, in terms of shopping destinations, department (35%) and discount (32%) stores emerge as the primary shopping spots for Valentine’s Day celebrants, while close to one-third (29%) are planning to buy gifts online.

In other research related to Valentine’s Day:

  • Figures from First Data (based on credit and debit card transactions in the US) indicate that luxury brands (28%) and jewelry stores (24%) captured the largest spend share on Valentine’s Day last year, as average ticket sizes were particularly high for those categories ($711 and $378, respectively);
  • A report from Packaged Facts reveals that Valentine’s Day is the third-largest holiday of the year for chocolate candy sales;
  • A Fishbowl analysis notes that email campaigns achieved higher open rates when sent in the 1-2 weeks prior to Valentine’s Day in comparison to those sent during the week of the holiday; and
  • A One Hour Translation survey finds that 31% of people surveyed around the world who intend to purchase a gift are planning to do so online.

About the Data: The NRF data is based on a survey conducted among 7,277 US adults (18+) and fielded in early January 2018.

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