Lingering COVID-19 Effects Push Valentine’s Day Spending to Second-Highest Level on Record

Man hiding red rose behind his back and gift for his smiling girlfriend while sitting in restaurant.
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Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and Americans are ready to spend a lot of money on it. So much that spending is expected to reach $23.9 billion this year, up from $21.8 billion in 2021. It will be the second-highest financial output year on record, according to the annual survey released today by the National Retail Federation (NRF)and Prosper Insights & Analytics. 

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“Valentine’s Day is a special occasion for many Americans, even more so as we navigate out of the pandemic, and retailers are prepared to help them mark the holiday in a memorable and meaningful way,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a release.

The number of American consumers who plan on celebrating the holiday in 2022, is also up, at 53%, compared to 52% in 2021, according to the survey. In addition, a staggering 76% of those celebrating indicate it is important to do so given the current state of the pandemic. 

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Consumers expect to spend an average of $175.41 per person on Valentine’s Day gifts, up from $164.76 in 2021, the survey finds.

In terms of the most popular gifts, candy takes the top spot, with 56%, followed by greeting cards, 40%, and flowers 37%.

And as restrictions are easing up, 31% of respondents plan to gift an “evening out” this year, up from 24% in 2021 and just slightly below pre-pandemic levels, for a total of $4.3 billion.

Finally, 22% will gift jewelry. Spending on jewelry is estimated at $6.2 billion, up from $4.1 billion in 2021 and the highest in the survey’s history.

“Following the historic level of consumer spending over the winter holidays, it appears that the trend will continue into 2022,” Shay said. “Valentine’s Day is a special occasion for many Americans, even more so as we navigate out of the pandemic, and retailers are prepared to help them mark the holiday in a memorable and meaningful way.”

Also reflecting the ease of pandemic restrictions, the demand for gifts of experience, such as tickets to a concert or sporting event, has also returned to pre-pandemic levels, with 41% saying they would “love to receive a gift of experience,” up from 36% last year, the survey notes.

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See: The Impact of COVID-19 on Holiday Spending for the Past Year
Find: The 8 Best Costco Deals for Valentine’s Day Gifts and More Special Occasions

Finally, the survey notes that consumers continue to favor online shopping for Valentine’s Day this year, visited by 41%, followed by department stores at 32%, discount stores at 28%, local small businesses at 18%  and florists at 17%.  

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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