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Valentine's Day spending expected to be higher

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From a night out on the town to flowers and jewelry, Americans plan to spoil their loved ones this Valentine’s Day.

According to the National Retail Federation’s Valentine’s Day Consumer Spending Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, 54.8 percent of consumers will celebrate Valentine’s Day, spending an average of  $146.84 on flowers, jewelry, candy, apparel and more, up from $142.31 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $19.7 billion, a survey high.

“As the first major consumer holiday of 2016, Valentine’s Day could provide a positive boost in spending our economy needs,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Low gas prices and guaranteed promotions from retailers large and small should help consumers as they look for the perfect gift for their friends and family. Looking ahead, we’re optimistic consumers are in a good place when it comes to spending on discretionary items like gifts.”

What Consumers Will Buy

When it comes to the top gifts this Valentine’s Day, 50 percent of consumers surveyed said they plan to buy candy, spending a total of $1.7 billion. Nearly four in 10 of those celebrating the holiday (38.3%) plan to treat their dates to a night out at a restaurant, tickets to a show or another experience, spending a record total of $4.5 billion, the highest since NRF began tracking spending on gifts in 2010.

Another $4.4 billion will be spent on necklaces, earrings and other jewelry items, with nearly one in five (19.9%) planning to treat their significant other or family member to something precious; nearly half (47.9%) of those celebrating will spend $1.1 billion on greeting cards. Additionally, it is estimated $2 billion will be spent on apparel and $1.9 billion will be spent on flowers.

Who Americans Will Buy Gifts for

Americans’ husbands, wives and significant others are the ones in for the real treat this Valentine’s Day. According to the survey, 90.8 percent of consumers said they would buy something for their significant other/spouse and plan to spend an average of $89.86, up from $87.94 last year. Total spending on significant others/spouses is expected to reach $12 billion.

Additionally, consumers will spend an average of $27.79 on other family members like children and parents, $7.08 on children’s classmates and teachers and $5.83 on co-workers.

One thing that remains true is Americans’ clear desire to celebrate holidays with their pets: according to the survey, consumers will spend $681 million to treat their favorite pets to Valentine’s Day delights.

Gifts of Experience this Valentine’s Day

NRF for the first time asked consumers about their hope to receive and plans to give a gift of experience. According to the survey, 24 percent of those surveyed said they plan to give a gift of experience such as tickets to a concert, a spa service or an art lesson, while nearly four in 10 (38.8%) said that they would love to receive a gift of experience.

“With the winter holidays behind us, consumers may have a little more room in their budget to indulge on gifts for their loved ones,” said Prosper’s principal analyst Pam Goodfellow. “This year we expect consumers will look for unique and creative gifts, including that extra special ‘experience’ that can be shared any time throughout the year. Even those on a tight budget can find affordable ways to create a special moment with each other even past Valentine’s Day.”

Where People Will Shop for Gifts

Department stores will see the most traffic this Valentine’s Day (34.5%) and nearly one-third (31%) will shop at their favorite discount store. Additionally, 27.9 percent plan to shop online, 19.4 percent will visit a florist, 19.1 percent will visit a specialty store, and 15.4 percent will shop small at a local, small business.

About the Survey

The NRF’s 2016 Valentine’s Day spending survey was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to Valentine’s Day. The survey was conducted for NRF by Prosper Insights & Analytics. The poll of 7,293 consumers was conducted from January 5-12, 2016 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

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