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This year, consumer spending plans for Valentine’s Day are something of a mixed bag, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) 2010 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey.

Couples plan to spend less on each other, but overall spending per person will rise slightly. Couples will spend an average of $63.34 on gifts for their significant other or spouse, a 5.8% drop from $67.22 last year. However, the average person will shell out $103 on traditional Valentine’s Day merchandise this year, a 0.5% bump from $102.50 in 2008. Total 2010 Valentine’s Day holiday spending is expected to reach $14.1 billion.

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Friends, Coworkers Stand to Gain

With Americans cutting back on the amount they spend on their significant other, friends and co-workers can expect a little bit more this year. The average person will spend $5.37 on friends, up 13.3% from $4.74 last year. In addition, the average person will spend $4.29 on classmates and teachers, 19.4% more than $3.59 last year; and $2.84 on co-workers, up 46.4% from the $1.94 they spent in 2009. Family pets will also feel the love this yea, with the average person spending $3.27, up 50.6% from $2.17 last year. Spending on family members will remain virtually the same, $20.94 vs. $20.95 last year.

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Men, Women Differ in Gift Ideas
The most popular gift item for men to give this Valentine’s Day is flowers, selected by 58.4% of male respondents. Greeting cards came in second at 47.2%, followed by candy at 44.2% and an evening out at 41.4%.

In comparison, for Valentine’s Day gifts women favor giving greeting cards (62.3%), candy (50.1%), and an evening out (30.1%). Only 14% of women plan to give flowers. Both sexes gave relatively low responses to more expensive selections such as jewelry and clothing.

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Chivalry Isn’t Dead

The average man plans to spend $135.35 on Valentine’s Day presents and activities this year, 87.2% more than the $72.28 the average woman expects to spend.

Consumers Tone Down Valentine’s Day Plans

U.S. consumers plan to observe Valentine’s Day this February 14, but will spend less and stay home while doing so, according to the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index. Ninety-three percent of respondents indicate they plan to observe the Valentine’s Day holiday this year. However, spending levels will drop about 5% for both men and women. Men plan to spend an average of $133 this year (compared to $140 in 2009), and women plan to spend $72 (compared to $75 last year).

Brand Keys echoed the NRF’s findings that gift-giving has skewed away from expensive presents like jewelry and larger gift cards to smaller, less expensive, more intimate gifts. For example, a total of 85% of respondents plan to give cards, while only 15% plan to give jewelry.

Retailers Bump Up Valentine’s Email Promotions

Promotional retail email activity will likely grow in the next two weeks as the Valentine’s Day holiday (February 14) approaches. Valentine’s Day should also continue growing in dominance of promotional retail email subject matter. From being mentioned in virtually 0% of promotional retail emails the week ending January 8, 2009, Valentine’s Day steadily increased to being mentioned in more than 20% of promotional retail emails the week ending January 29, 2009, according to Chad White, research director at Responsys and author of the Retail Email Blog.

Easter Beats Valentine’s for Candy Sales
Nearly 71 million pounds of chocolate candy is sold during the week leading up to Easter. By comparison, only 48 million pounds of chocolate candy is sold during Valentine’s week. Halloween sees the most chocolate candy sales, with nearly 90 million pounds of chocolate candy sold in the last week of October.

About the Survey: The NRF 2010 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted for NRF by BIGresearch, was conducted among 9,578 consumers January 5-13, 2010.

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