Valentine’s Day is the fifth largest spending event in the United States, after the winter holidays and Mother’s Day, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Even in the depths of a global pandemic that has shaken the economy and claimed millions of jobs, consumers aren’t cutting back much when it comes to celebrating their loved ones.
- Valentine’s Day is the fifth largest consumer spending event in the United States after the winter holidays and Mother's Day.
- People are estimated to have spent $23.9 billion on Valentine's Day in 2022—up from $21.8 billion in 2021 and the second-highest year on record.
- At-home celebrations are no longer in the top five most popular ways of spending for the holiday, while candy has made its way to the number one spot.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates that more than half (about 53%) of U.S. adults plan to celebrate Valentine's Day in 2022, spending a total of $23.9 billion. If the estimate holds true, 2022 will become the second-highest spending year on record since NRF conducted its first spending survey in 2009.
In 2021, about half of U.S. adults planned to celebrate Valentine’s Day and spent a total of $21.8 billion, down from $27.4 billion in 2020.
This year's celebration looks likely to help boost the U.S. economy as well, because consumer spending drives almost 70% of the nation's total output, making it the largest component of gross domestic product.
How Much People Spend on Valentine's Day
In 2022, the average American is estimated to have spent $175.41 per person on Valentine’s Day gifts, up from $164.76 in 2021. But both of these amounts are down from $196.31 per person in 2020, the NRF said.
NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Valentine’s Day is a special occasion for many Americans, even more so as we navigate out of the pandemic, and retailers are prepared to help them mark the holiday in a memorable and meaningful way," NRP President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement following the survey release.
How People Spend Their Money on Valentine’s Day
While the ongoing pandemic has had an impact on how people spend on the love-filled holiday since 2020, in 2022, candy, greeting cards, and flowers remain the most popular gift items this Valentine's Day.
However, while planning a special dinner or celebration at home to adhere to social distancing rules was a common theme in 2021, that is predicted to change in 2022.
About a third (31%) of respondents plan to give an "evening out" for Valentine's Day this year, up from 24% in 2021 and just slightly below pre-pandemic levels for an expected total of $4.3 million. Twenty-two percent of respondents are planning to gift jewelry to another this year, bringing the total spent to an estimated $6.2 billion—up from $4.1 billion in 2021, and the highest spend on jewelry in the survey's history.
An interest in experiential gifts is also expected to rise to pre-pandemic levels, with 41% of respondents saying they would "love to receive a gift experience." up from 36% last year.
The Impact of COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic has not only shaped Americans’ celebration decisions, but it also affected the way people shop. Online shopping has become a large growth area for Valentine’s Day shoppers, with 38% of Americans buying gifts online in 2021, up from 32% in 2020, according to the NRF. In 2022, the NRF expects 41% of individuals to shop online for Valentine's Day gifts this year, followed by department stores at 32%.
Small businesses joined the list of the top five shopping destinations in 2021, as Americans felt inspired to support their local shops amid the economic downturn. In 2022, small businesses are expected to beat out florists for the fourth most popular destination for Valentine's Day shopping.