Are Consumers Falling Out of Love with Valentine's Day?

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Happy Valentine Dogs

Depending on how old you are, you may have fond memories of exchanging pop-culture branded valentines at school. Maybe you munched on festive heart candies with messages on them like, “BE MINE.” Perhaps you have a long tradition of giving your spouse a heart-shaped box of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers on February 14.

Alternatively, you may be someone who chooses to sit out the holiday altogether. If so, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF), participation in Valentine’s Day is declining compared to ten years ago. Only 51% of people under age 55 plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day. In 2009 that number was over 68%.

Does this mean romance is dead? Not quite. While the number of people celebrating Valentine’s Day has declined, the amount of money spent on Valentine’s Day by the people who do choose to celebrate has increased. According to the NRF, “Those surveyed said they would spend an average $161.96. That’s up 13 percent from last year’s $143.56 and easily tops the previous record of $146.84 set in 2016. Total spending is expected to be $20.7 billion.”

Over twenty billion dollars is a lot of money to spend on Valentine’s gifts, but not all the recipients of gifts are human. According to another poll by the NRF, over a quarter of those consumers under 35 planned to buy a Valentine’s Day gift for their pets. Retailers have noticed the trend and have offered Valentine’s Day-themed displays and website offerings in response to the demand.

Of course, not everyone has a significant other or a pet to give gifts to on Valentine’s Day. According to VOA News, other cultures even have a version of an anti-Valentine’s Day such as Black Day in Korea and Singles Day in China, both of which celebrate being single. Here in the States, we don’t have a Singles Day, but single people do still celebrate Valentine’s Day in their own way. The NRF has noted an increase in the rise of “self care” spending and people using the holiday to treat themselves to gifts and spa treatments.

There’s no wrong way to spend Valentine’s Day whether you celebrate with your significant other, your pet, yourself, or plan to ignore it altogether. One thing’s for sure, no matter which way it’s trending, it’s not going away any time soon.