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Valentine’s Day Drives Nearly $3 Billion in Spending on New Clothes

Consumer confidence is up, and after a solid holiday, it looks like shoppers are prepared to shell out the big bucks for their loved ones on Valentine’s Day.

When it comes to apparel, consumers are set to spend about $2.9 billion for their friends, family and lovers to celebrate the romantic holiday, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Retail should again see a record period of spending for Valentine’s Day after setting the mark at an average spend of $161.96 in 2019.

This year, that number is expected to jump 21 percent to $196.31.

“Valentine’s Day is a sentimental tradition, but gift-giving can be driven by the economy,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “Consumers spent freely during the 2019 winter holidays and they appear ready to do the same in the new year.”

Not only is the average spend expected to climb, but overall Valentine’s Day participation is looking up as well. After dropping four points in 2019, participation is expected to return to its decade-long average of 55 percent.

Valentine’s Day shopping is also one area in which department stores still hold sway over all other retail options, according to the survey, as 36 percent of those polled said they would visit one during their shopping journey. Discount shops and online retailers came in second at 32 percent, with specialty stores (19 percent) and locally owned businesses (15 percent) filling out the list.

The biggest change in Valentine’s Day spending, compared to past years, is the variety of gift recipients that shoppers will have on their minds, NRF said. Spouses and significant others still lead the pack at 52 percent of all holiday spending but that number has steadily shrunk from 61 percent at the beginning of the decade.

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“The share spent on most other recipients has gone up over the past decade, with the amount spent on co-workers, for example, more than doubling to 7 percent of the total from 3 percent,” NRF said. “The share for pets has also doubled, to 6 percent from 3 percent in the same time period.”

By demographic, men are still likely to spend the most, with their average spend projected at $291.15 compared to $106.22 for women—which has been consistent each year the survey has been conducted.

Shoppers aged 35 to 44 will spend the most, at $358.78, while younger shoppers aged 25 to 34 come in second place at $307.51. The group expected to spend the least will be those aged between 18 and 24, who will use their typically more limited means to spend $109.31 on recipients.

Following a holiday season in which sales rose at almost double the rate recorded in 2018, Shay suggested retailers should be able to ride that momentum for a substantial Valentine’s Day sales boost.

“The same strong employment numbers and higher wages that boosted holiday sales should make it easier to spend a little extra to say ‘I love you’ this year and to spread the gift-giving beyond just your significant other,” Hays said.