Consumers watch budgets for Valentine’s Day: NRF survey

On the heels of a healthy yet modest holiday shopping season, cautious consumers are not quite ready to splurge on Valentine’s Day this year, continuing to keep their budgets in check. According to the NRF’s 2014 Valentine’s Day spending survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, 54% of Americans will celebrate with their loved ones this year, compared to 60% in 2013. The average person plans to spend $133.91 on candy, cards, gifts, dinner and more, up slightly from $130.97 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $17.3 billion.

“Valentine’s Day will continue to be a popular gift-giving event, even when consumers are frugal with their budgets. This is the one day of the year when millions find a way to show their loved ones they care,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “Consumers can expect Cupid’s holiday to resemble the promotional holiday season we saw just a few months ago, as retailers recognise that their customers are still looking for the biggest bang for their buck.”

Gift-givers will find the perfect gift for their loved ones that fits their budget, whether it’s candy, flowers, jewellery, clothing, an evening out or simply a greeting card. Nearly half (48.7%) will buy candy, a third will give flowers (37.3%) and over half (51.2%) will send greeting cards. Some 19% will treat their better halves to something sparkly – jewellery spending will total $3.9 billion, and 37% will celebrate with an evening out, spending an estimated total of $3.5 billion. Others will give more practical gifts like clothing (15.8%) or gift cards (14%) so their loved ones can have that item they’ve been eyeing in the store.

Men will spend $108.38 on gifts for their significant others – twice as much as women who will spend $49.41 on their special someone. But Valentine’s Day is not just for couples; people will show their appreciation for family members (59.4%) friends (21.7%) teachers (20.4%) and colleagues (12.1%). And like every holiday, Americans won’t forget about their pets.19.4% will buy gifts for their furry friends, spending an average of $5.51.

“While fewer are planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, millions of shoppers will still  make room in their discretionary budgets to send cards and gifts to loved ones or enjoy a special evening out,” says Prosper Insights and Analytics director Pam Goodfellow. “Consumers can expect promotions on everything from flowers to date night dinner packages in the coming days, leaving plenty of ideas for those looking to spoil their Valentines.”

Cautious consumers do their research when it comes to shopping, and many will purchase gifts online. The survey found that 26.1% plan to shop online this Valentine’s Day, flat with last year’s 26.3%. Many will turn to their tablets or smartphones before making their final gift decisions; 24% will research products or compare prices on their smartphones and 32.2% will do so on their tablets.

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