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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Consumers are expected to spoil their friends, family and loved ones this Valentine's Day in a very big way. According to the National Retail Federation's (NRF) 2012 Valentine's Day Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGinsight, the average person will shell out $126.03, up 8.5 percent over last year's $116.21 average.
This is the highest amount seen in the survey's 10-year history. Total spending is expected to reach $17.6 billion.
"As one of the biggest gift-giving holidays of the year, it's encouraging that consumers are still exhibiting the desire to spend on discretionary gift items, a strong indication our economy continues to move in the right direction," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "Anticipating high foot traffic in the coming weeks, retailers have replenished their inventories and will entice eager shoppers with great deals on everything from special menu items at restaurants to clothing to flowers and, of course, chocolates.
Consumers' "better halves" will shell out the most on their partners, with the average person planning to spend $74.12 on their spouse or significant other, up from $68.98 last year. Additionally, consumers will spend an average of $25.25 on their children, parents or other family members, and $6.92 on friends. Valentine's Day is a great day for pet owners to show their furry friends just how much they mean as well, with the average person expected to spend about $4.52 on their pets this year.
The survey also found the average male is expected to spend $168.74 on clothing, jewelry, greeting cards and more this year -- nearly twice as much as women, who are expected to spend an average of $85.76.
In addition to traditional gift ideas, some survey respondents said they will give the gift of choice: 13.3 percent will buy gift cards, up from 12.6 percent last year. Half of all celebrants said they will buy candy, 36 percent will buy flowers and 35.6 percent will treat someone to a nice evening out.
Discount stores are expected to see the most traffic (37 percent), while one-third of shoppers will head to department stores, up from 30.5 percent last year. Others will shop at specialty stores (20.2 percent), floral shops (17.8 percent), jewelry stores (10.6 percent) and specialty clothing stores (6.6 percent).
The NRF 2012 Valentine's Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGinsight, polled 9,317 consumers Jan. 4-11.