Valentine's Day Celebrants Spend More in 2020

Shoppers Feeling the Love This Valentine's Day

Couple celebrating Valentines Day
••• Photo: Cultura/Spark Photographic/Riser/Getty Images

In 2020, Valentine's Day shoppers plan to set new spending records. They will add $27.4 billion to the economy, according to the National Retail Federation. That's more than the $20.7 billion spent in 2019. This gives a huge boost to retailers who cater to this market. It also points to rising consumer confidence.

That's good news for the economy. Consumer spending drives almost 70% of the nation's total output. That makes it the largest component of gross domestic product

For historical comparison, 2020 spending will also be more than these prior years: $20.7 billion in 2019, $19.6 billion in 2018, $18.2 billion in 2017, $19.7 billion in 2016, $18.9 billion in 2015, $17.3 billion in 2014, and $18.6 billion in 2013.

Key Takeaways

  • Rising Valentine’s Day sales over the past 10 years point to increasing consumer confidence and a growing, robust economy.
  • The bulk of Valentine retail sales come from both department store and online store purchases.
  • Gift giving is not limited to one’s significant other. It includes family members, friends, co-workers and classmates, and even pets.

Who's Doing the Spending

More than half (55%) of the population plan to celebrate Valentines' Day, a greater percentage than last year. The record high was 63% in 2009.

One reason could be national demographics. The proportion of older people continues to rise, but they are less likely to celebrate the holiday. Younger people, who still try to impress potential mates, participate more than older, more settled folks. According to the NRF, 62% of those between the ages of 35 and 44 will celebrate. That's more than 60% of those between the ages of 25 and 34 who participate. Another 58% of those between 18 and 24 years old will do so.

But only 46% of those over 65 will celebrate. And just 51% of those aged 55 to 64 will participate.

How Much They Are Spending

Celebrants are spending a record amount of $196.31 per person. That beat the 2019 record of $161.96 per person. The lowest spending was $102.50 per person in 2009.

As usual, men spend almost twice as much as women: $291.15 per guy versus $106.22 per gal.

Top Five Valentine's Day Purchases

More people shopped for less expensive gifts, proving the adage that it's the thought that counts. Here are the top five gifts, the percentages of who bought them, and how much they spent in total.

Purchase Percent Billions Spent
Candy 52% $2.4
Greeting cards 43% $1.3
Evening out 34% $4.3
Flowers 37% $2.3
Jewelry 21% $5.8

Least Popular Gifts

The least favorite gifts were also the least romantic. Only 20% bought clothing and spent $2.9 billion. Just 19% bought gift cards and paid $2.0 billion. 

Who They Are Buying For

Celebrants will spend the most, $30.19 each, on family members other than spouses. That's greater than the $29.87 spent in 2019. They'll spend $14.69 each on friends, up from $9.78 in 2019.

The next largest amount, $14.45, will go to children’s classmates and teachers. A similar amount, $12.96 on co-workers. A record 27% will buy Valentine’s gifts for their pets, the highest figure in the history of the survey. They'll spend $12.21 per person.

Where They Shop

More shoppers, around 36%, will visit department stores rather than discount stores, which will be visited by only 32%. Online shopping has captured more consumers, with 32% using Amazon and the like. But 19% still went to specialty stores, and 17% stopped by the florist's shop. Retailers stocked the shelves with deals in anticipation of value-conscious shoppers.

Mobile Device Use Is on the Upswing

Just like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, shoppers used their mobile devices to share their love on the go. Over half of smartphone owners used them to purchase their gifts. More than a third used them to research products, prices, and retailer information. They also redeemed coupons and purchased products with their device. 

What the Other Half Does

Almost half of the population weren’t celebrating Valentine's Day in the traditional sense. But about one-third of them were doing something. For example, 12% of men and 14% of women are giving themselves some love by buying something special. At least 12% of men and 10% of women were getting together with family or friends. A few (5% of men and 4% of women) will rebel against the holiday by purchasing an "anti" Valentine's Day gift.

Article Sources

  1. National Retail Federation. "Valentine's Day Data Center," Accessed Jan. 31, 2020.

  2. National Retail Federation. "Is Love Still in the Air?" Accessed Jan. 8, 2020.

  3. National Retail Federation. "Confident Consumers and Broader Buying Lead to Record Valentine's Day Spending Plans," Accessed Jan. 31, 2020.