Feb 142016
 

Ever wonder just how you are spending this record amount on Valentines for the love of your life? Some would say just “show me da money.”

When it comes to Valentine’s Day spending, American consumers break records around the world. According to the National Retail Federation’s Valentine’s Day Consumer Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, 54.8 percent of American consumers spent for Valentine’s Day 2016, an average of $146.84 on flowers, jewelry, candy, apparel and more, pushing beyond last year’s average threshold of $142.31 spent by American consumers in 2015, said Sweetworks and the National Retail Federation in Washington, DC.

The National Retail Federation’s 2016 Valentine’s Day spending survey is “designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends” surrounding Valentine’s Day. Prosper Insights and Analytics “delivers executives timely, consumer-centric insights from multiple sources,” according to the data analytics firm.

“As a comprehensive resource of information, Prosper represents the voice of the consumer and provides knowledge to marketers regarding consumer views on the economy, personal finance, retail, lifestyle, media and domestic and world issues.”

The National Retail Federation – Prosper Insights and Analytics poll of 7,293 consumers was conducted on January 5-12, 2016 with a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points. 

Indeed, the poll shows annual consumer spending on Valentine’s Day is growing. Average spending per person was $109.50 in 2009, gradually increasing to $103 in 2010, $116.21 in 2011, $126.03 in 2012, $130.97 in 2013, $133.91 in 2014, $142.31 in 2015, and finally to $146.84 this year.

Remarkably, grand total Valentine’s Day retail sales across America reached a record $19.7 billion in 2016. This record spending on ‘sweets for our sweethearts” topped last year’s $19 billion spent, and $18.6 billion spent in 2014, according to Sweetworks, BIGInsight, and the National Retail Federation.

“As the first major consumer holiday of 2016, Valentine’s Day could provide a positive boost in spending our economy needs,” said National Retail Federation 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.” 

National Retail Federation is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries.

According to the Federation, “retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.”

According to the National Retail Federation – Prosper Insights and Analytics survey, 90.8 percent of consumers said they bought something for their significant other/spouse and spent an average of $89.86, up from $87.94 last year. 

About the same as last year, men spent in 2016 on average $193.53, almost twice as much as women at $96.58 on average, in asking each other in love to “please be my Valentine.”

Total spending on significant others/spouses reached about $12 billion. 

“When it comes to the top gifts this Valentine’s Day,” says the National Retail Federation survey, “50 percent of consumers surveyed said they bought candy, spending a total of $1.7 billion. Nearly four in 10 of those celebrating the holiday (38.3%) treated 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 National Retail Federation began tracking spending on gifts in 2010.”

“Another $4.4 billion was spent by American consumers on necklaces, earrings and other jewelry items, with nearly one in five (19.9%) treating their significant other or family member to something precious; nearly half (47.9%) of those celebrating Valentine’s Day 2016 spent $1.1 billion on greeting cards. Additionally, it is estimated $2 billion was spent on apparel and $1.9 billion was shelled out on flowers.”

Contrast this to last year, American lovers splashed out $4.8 billion on jewelry (at 21.1 percent of consumers in 2015), $4.6 billion on date nights (at 35.1 percent of consumers), $2.1 billion on flowers (or 37.8 percent of consumers), and $1.7 billion on candy sweets for their sweeties (or 53.2 percent of consumers).

Additionally, American consumers spent in 2016 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.

Valentine’s Day 2016 isn’t just for couples, according to the survey, consumers spent $681 million to treat their favorite pets to Valentine’s Day toys and sweets. By comparison, 21.2 percent of Americans spent in 2015 a significantly larger grand total of $703 million on their pets.

In addition, 91.1 percent of Valentine gifts were given on this love holiday to a significant other, 59 percent to other family members, 22 percent to friends, 20 percent to our children’s classmates and teachers, 19 percent to our pets, 12 percent to our co-workers, and 9 percent to whoever we wish to show a little secret love and appreciation towards on Valentine’s Day this year.

By comparison to as recently back just a couple years to Valentine’s Day 2014, few countries come close to this February holiday spending by American consumers. Total average spending amounted to about a billion dollars less at $18.6 billion in 2014. Of this, $9.67 billion was spent on meals, $2.89 billion on candy, $2.35 billion on romantic getaways, $1.78 billion on flowers, $1.62 billion on jewelry, $1.26 billion on clothing and lingerie (primarily from Victoria Secrets), and finally $0.87 billion on Valentine cards.

On Valentine’s Day 2014, Americans spent an average of $73.75 on their significant other, while men continued to spend far more than women to keep the peace and tranquility in the homestead. Average Valentine’s Day expenditure in 2014 amounted to $175.61 for men and $88.78 for women.

Like in 2015, Americans spent $367 million on Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets in 2014. In addition, 56 percent of Valentine gifts given in 2014 were to a romantic sweetheart, 20 percent to other family members, 7 percent to friends, 5 percent to our children’s classmates and teachers, 4 percent to our pets, 4 percent to our co-workers, and 4 percent to whoever we showed some love to on Valentine’s Day 2014.

National Retail Federation 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 ten (at 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.”

Above all, the conveniences of millennial age e-commerce mobile wireless communication devices drive Valentine’s Day consumer behavior and spending. “Department stores saw the most traffic this Valentine’s Day 2016 (at 34.5%) and nearly one-third (at 31%) shopped at their favorite discount store,” Goodfellow’s analysis team determined. “Additionally, [a substantial] 27.9 percent shopped online [for Valentine gifts], 19.4 percent visited a florist, 19.1 visited a specialty store, and 15.4 percent shopped small at a local, small business.”

In contrast to Valentine’s Day 2016 e-commerce activity at 27.9 percent, according to the National Retail Federation, a much higher 46.9 percent of lovers celebrating Valentine’s Day 2015 used their smart tablets and phablets to purchase or research Valentine gifts. Whereas, 40.7 percent of romantic couples used their smartphones to shop for Valentine sweets for their sweeties on this day to “show me some mo love” and “show me da money!”

 

Origins of Valentine’s Day

The background of Valentine’s Day, as a pagan fesitival in February, and “the story of its patron saint is shrouded in secret.”

“We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman historic.

“But, who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite? The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.

“One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II arranged that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.”

Valentines day is world day of love, where people are sharing in forgiveness. Although the origins of St. Valentine’s Day, as we know the holiday today, can be trace back to an early liturgical celebration of early Christian saints, the day was first associated with romantic love during the high Middle Ages, according to Wikipedia.

“In 18th century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards.”

 

Nonetheless, true love should be expressed 365 days a year. For love expressed everyday is four things. It is understanding between two people; it is about how two people in love and romance cooperate not compete with each other; it is about empathy felt between two people, actually walking inside each other shoes at all times; and most of all, it is about trust held among two people at all costs.

Valentine’s Day is love and romance in its most intimate sense. This February holiday holds special sentiment in the hearts and souls of women. Nevertheless, men would be remiss, if they did not recognize their sweethearts on this particular holiday. This is a day for men to display romantic love to women.

For Valentine’s Day is the ultimate expression of chivalry, a gesture of love and respect that romantic couples display towards each other at a time when men sometimes have had to suppress these cherished norms of emotion and feelings. This is a heartfelt essence even spiritual sense of emotional intelligence.

It allows us for a moment to act upon our feelings and natural tendencies, instead of focusing on sterile business etiquette or even political correctness, or better still, our record $19.7 billion spent annually surrounding our expressions of love and romance. Valentine’s Day is the ultimate private holiday celebration in February, whereby “men can be men,” and “women can be women.”

Photo Credits: Peanuts by Charles M. Shultz; Desilu2 and Lucille Ball Productions

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Oliver McGee is an aerospace, mechanical, and civil engineer, and author of seven books on AmazonHe is former United States deputy assistant secretary of transportation for technology policy (1999-2001) in the Clinton Administration, and former senior policy adviser in the Clinton White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (1997-1999).

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