Consumers to spend 20 percent less this Valentine’s Day

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The National Retail Federation says the pandemic will alter celebrations this year

In its annual Valentine’s Day survey, the National Retail Federation (NRF) found that consumers are likely to spend a little less than they did last year. 

The NRF said just over half of U.S. adults (52 percent) plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year. Average expenditures will drop $32 this year (from $196 last year to $165 this year). In total, Americans are expected to spend around $21.8 billion -- a 20 percent decline from this time last year, before COVID-19 had become a major concern. 

Despite the drop in spending, the NRF says Valentine’s Day 2021 is still poised to be the second highest Valentine’s Day in terms of expected spending. It comes “on the heels of a record-setting winter holiday season,” noted Katherine Cullen, senior director of industry and consumer insights for the NRF. 

The NRF says consumers will also celebrate a little differently this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Celebrating differently 

The NRF’s survey of 7,882 adult consumers yielded the following key insights:  

  • Just 24 percent say they will celebrate with an evening out this year, the lowest percentage in the survey’s history.

  • Another 41 percent say they will plan a special dinner or celebration in the comfort of their own home.

  • Nearly half of consumers (46 percent) say they are actively avoiding in-person gatherings. This translates to $1.5 billion less in spending on an evening out this year.

  • Twenty-seven percent of those celebrating Valentine’s Day are planning to buy gifts and other treats for their pets.

  • Fewer young consumers are planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, but those who do plan to celebrate are spending a little more than they normally would. Those aged 18-24 were the only age group to increase their planned spending on Valentine’s Day, from $109 to $184.

While celebrations may look a little different this year, the NRF said it expects things to look more typical in 2022. 

“Nothing can mask love permanently, and we expect consumers will return to their typical Valentine’s Day traditions next year,” the firm said. 

Still on the hunt for that perfect Valentine’s Day gift? Check out ConsumerAffairs’ top Valentine’s Day Deals for 2021 here.

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