National Retail Federation Pins Hopes on Record Valentine’s Day Spending

NRFWith Valentine’s Day 2016 now behind us, The National Retail Federation (NRF) will be out with final figures soon enough. But its advance survey on potential Valentine’s Day spending was as hopeful as a bride and groom taking off for the honeymoon.

“Americans are planning to spoil their loved ones this Valentine’s Day,” the NRF noted. “According to (our) Valentine’s Day Consumer Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, 54.8 percent of consumers will celebrate Valentine’s Day, spending an average of $146.84 on flowers, jewelry, candy, apparel and more, up from $142.31 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $19.7 billion, a survey high.”

After somewhat lackluster holiday spending in December, Valentine’s Day was seen as a potential blockbuster.

“As the first major consumer holiday of 2016, Valentine’s Day could provide a positive boost in spending our economy needs,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in an NRF release. “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.”

The survey suggested that Valentine’s Day is still largely about the candy.

“When it comes to the top gifts, 50 percent of consumers surveyed said they plan to buy candy, spending a total of $1.7 billion. Nearly four in 10 of those celebrating the holiday (38.3 percent) plan to treat 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 NRF began tracking spending on gifts in 2010.”

Cupid-inspired consumers were also forecast to spend an average of $27.79 on other family members (children and parents), $7.08 on children’s classmates and teachers, and $5.83 on co-workers.

And don’t forget Fido and Mittens.

“One thing that remains true is Americans’ clear desire to celebrate holidays with their pets: according to the survey, consumers will spend $681 million to treat their favorite pets to Valentine’s Day delights,” according to the NRF’s advance look at the holiday.

“Gifts of experience” are becoming a big thing, too. Instead of a physical object, these are action-oriented presents including everything from trips to theater tickets to personal pampering sessions.

“NRF for the first time asked consumers about their hope to receive and plans to give a gift of experience,” notes the release. “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 10 (38.8 percent) 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.”

We’ll let you know how Valentine’s Day turned out soon — and whether retailers felt the love this year.