Valentine's Day Celebrants Spent More in 2018

Shoppers Felt the Love in 2018

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

Consumers lavish attention on their loved ones on Valentine's Day and that gives a revenue boost to retailers who cater to this market. Spending on candy, cards, flowers, evenings out, and other gifts traditionally increase in advance of the holiday. Gift-giving also increased year-over-year for the holiday, showing a rise in consumer confidence when it comes to luxury spending.

In 2018, consumers spent more than in 2017.

 Valentine's Day contributed about $19.6 billion in 2018 to the economy, according to the National Retail Federation. That's more than the $18.2 billion spent in 2017 but slightly lower than the record $19.7 billion spent in 2016. It's more than the $18.9 billion spent in 2015, the $18.6 billion spent in 2013, and the $17.4 billion spent in 2014.

That was good news for the economy. Consumer spending drives almost 70 percent of the output. That makes it the largest component of gross domestic product

Who's Doing the Spending

More than half (55 percent) of the population celebrated Valentines' Day in 2018. It's up a bit from the 54 percent who celebrated in 2017. It's fewer than the 63 percent who celebrated in 2007. 

But celebrants spent more in 2018. They were expected to spend $143.56 per person compared to $136.57 in 2017. It's a little less than the $146.84 each spent in 2016. But it's more than the $142.31 spent in 2015, and the $133.91 spent in 2014.


Men spend nearly twice as much as women: $196.39 per guy versus $99.87 per gal. Consumers making $50,000 a year or more tend to spend $169.32 each, versus $109.14 per person making less than $50,000.

Demographic trends can affect spending on Valentine's Day. The proportion of older people continues to rise.

They are less likely to celebrate the holiday. Younger people, who still try to impress potential mates, participate more than older, more settled folks. Nearly two-thirds of those between the ages of 25 and 34 celebrate the holiday, and 60 percent of those between 18 and 24 years old do so. Less than half of those between 55 and 64 celebrate, along with 44.7 percent of those 65 and older.

Top 5 Valentine's Day Purchases

More people shop for less expensive gifts, proving the adage that it's the thought that counts. Here are the top five gifts, the percentage who buy them, and how much they spend in total.

PurchasePercent  Billions Spent
Greeting cards  44.9%$1.0
Evening out35.2%$3.7

Least Popular Gifts

The least favorite gifts are also the least romantic. Only 19 percent buy clothing, spending $1.9 billion. Just 16 percent buy gift cards, paying $1.4 billion. 

Gifts for Pets

More than a third of Millennials have pets, more than any other age group. They especially love to splurge on their pets on holidays. On Valentine's Day, those ages 25 to 34 were expected to spend $12.70 each. That's three times more than those ages 35 to 44, who tend to spend just $4.08.

People ages 65 or older spend the least ($1.46) on their animal companions.

Where They Shop

More shoppers visit department stores (35 percent) than discount stores (32 percent). Online shopping has captured more consumers, with 29 percent using Amazon and the like. But 19 percent still go to specialty stores, and 17 percent stop by the florist's shop. Retailers stock 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 use their mobile devices to share  their love on the go. Over half of smartphone owners use them to purchase their gifts. More than a third use them to research products, prices, and retailer information. They also redeem coupons and purchase products with their device. 

What the Other Half Does

Almost half of the population aren't celebrating Valentine's Day in the traditional sense.

But about one-third of them are doing something. For example, 11.5 percent are giving themselves some love by buying something special. Almost 10 percent are getting together with family or friends. Almost 4 percent are rebelling against the holiday by purchasing an "anti" Valentine's Day gift.