12 Fun Facts About Valentine's Day Spending

By Paul Michael on 12 February 2016 1 comment

Valentine's Day. A day for lovers and hopeless romantics everywhere. But what about the costs of being a big sweetheart? What are we, as a nation, spending to let our significant other know just how much we care about them? Some very revealing data from a 2015 National Retail Federation study lifts the lid on our spending habits on Valentine's Day. Here are 12 fun facts about the where our money goes on the day of love.

1. Americans Will Spend Over $19 Billion on Valentine's Day

You read that correctly; $19 billion. Last year, the spend was $18.9 billion, and that is only going to increase, especially as the economy continues to improve. Does that mean we're all a bunch of big romantics in this country, or are we just suckers for gift-giving holidays? After all, no one needs a special day to treat the love of their life to roses, chocolates, or a candlelit dinner for two. Perhaps it's a mix of peer pressure and not wanting to be "that guy," aka the guy who didn't buy gifts on the big day.

2. Men Spend Twice as Much as Women

All is not equal between the sexes on Valentine's Day. On average, men spent $190.53 on the day of romance last year, as opposed to the $96.58 spent by women. Why? Especially these days, with women wanting equality in the workplace, and equal treatment in all aspects of life.

A quick poll of my friends and family was quite revealing. It seems as though men believe they are supposed to spend more than women; that this is a time to treat their significant other. Something else that came up was that gifts for women cost more than those for men, and also, women seem to care about the holiday more than men, and therefore, it makes sense to spend more. What do you think?

3. More Than Half of Valentine's Day Gifts are Candy

As a country, we certainly do have an affinity for sweets. Over the last decade, around half of all Americans surveyed said they were going to buy candy as a gift for their significant other. In 2015, that number was 53.2%. Coming in second, at 37.8%, was flowers, followed by jewelry and greeting cards. Remember, if you're a frugal shopper, all that candy will be 50%–75% off the day after Valentine's Day. So, if you want to treat him or her to candies, perhaps do it over the course of a few days. It prolongs the holiday, and you can save money at the same time. (See also: Celebrate Love, Not Money, With These Recycled Valentine's Day Gifts)

4. Nine Out of 10 People Will Treat Their Significant Other

It appears as though we're a nation of sweethearts. Apparently, 91% of us will do something for our partner this year, with the average spend being almost $90. The other 10% consist of people who either don't believe in the holiday, will forget it, or have already agreed on doing nothing with their partner. The stats don't take into account people who don't have a significant other, or those who plan to be someone's secret admirer.

5. Adults Ages 25–34 Spend the Most Money

Hold onto your wallets. Last year's data reveals that people between the ages of 25–34 will spend an average of $213.04 on Valentine's Day! That's a huge sum of money. Coming in second, and well below that number, are 35–44-year-olds, who will shell out an average of $176.21. Surprisingly, third place falls to the 18–24-year-olds, spending an average of $168.95. It looks like the older generations may be saving their money for something else.

6. Discount Stores Play a Big Role in Valentine's Day

It looks like we're not just a bunch of romantics, but we also love a good bargain, too. Second only to department stores — making up 36.5% of last year's most visited locations — discount stores were the place to shop for gifts. And 35.2% of us went to these kinds of stores to shop for Valentine's Day gifts last year. So who cares if it's a bargain, as long as it's a gift that comes from the heart?

7. The Nation Will Spend Over $1.5 Billion on Cards

Yes, cards. This one is a head-scratcher. As Jim Gaffigan once said about Valentine's Day cards, "I guess that's something I'd say — I'll just add my name here. See what that other person wrote about how I feel about you?"

With greeting cards coming in between $4–$6 each, it seems like an incredible waste of money. If you want your significant other to know how you feel about them, write them a letter. Pop it in an envelope, and seal it with a kiss if you want. Guaranteed, they would rather read something personal on a piece of paper, than a quick "Love you, Babe" under a verse that a professional writer composed.

8. Over 20% of Us Buy Gifts for Our Pets

You don't have to be human to get in on the Valentine's Day action. Last year, 21.2% of people surveyed said they bought gifts for their pets. Thankfully, people used good financial sense here, spending on average only $5.28 on a gift. However, when you do the math, it means the nation will spend over $703 million on Valentine's Day gifts for pets! You have to wonder, with the pets not having a clue what is going on, is that the best use of your hard-earned money?

9. We Spend an Average of $6.30 on Classmates and Teachers

As Valentine's Day approaches again, the parents of younger kids will know all about the tradition of the homemade Valentine's mailbox. It's a shoebox, or other cardboard box, decorated and used to collect the many little gifts and cards given out by all the other kids at school. Although these gifts are often just a lollipop glued to a notecard, they soon add up to a box of sugary treats that will rival a Halloween haul. Teachers are also included in that mix, although usually they get a card, and nothing more.

10. Other Family Members Get Treated, Too

As a Brit, this one floored me when I first got here. Valentine's Day was always about lovers. So imagine my surprise when I saw cards that said, "Happy Valentine's Day, Grandma" and "With Love On Valentine's Day, Son." Wait, what?! As was explained to me, quite quickly, it's considered a holiday to show your love for other people in the U.S., not just in a romantic way. And with Americans spending an average of $26.26 last year on family members, it's a gesture taken quite seriously.

11. Americans Will Spend Over $2 Billion on Clothing

You have to wonder how much of that $2 billion will be spent on sexy lingerie and skimpy night attire. After all, this is the one time of year guys can look around Victoria's Secret without feeling completely out of place. Whatever kind of clothing you plan to buy for your partner, just remember to keep the receipt, and check on the return policy. You don't want that lovely gesture to become a costly one.

12. Over $3.6 Billion Will Be Spent on Movies and Dining Out

Dinner and a movie may seem as cliché as flowers and chocolates, but that's what we like to do, and we spend billions proving that point. Last year, we spent over $3.6 billion on Valentine's Day trips to the theater and restaurants. Those figures were slightly skewed by the fact that many restaurants have "romantic specials" that cost more than a typical dinner for two. But even taking that into account, one thing is clear — you better book ahead to avoid disappointment this year.

How much will you be spending on Valentine's Day? Share with us in the comments!

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Sylvia f Mckinnie

I rather have a card and a single white rose than all the money in the world love you cherish you don't abuse it