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What's Behind the Valentine's Day Retail Slowdown?

Posted by Mary Barbour on February 14, 2017

Valentine’s Day is a huge time of the year for retailers. Like any traditional “gifting" holiday, businesses expect to see sales pick up as people are purchasing gifts for loved ones, family members and maybe a little something for themselves. Valentine’s Day spending has increased every year over the past decade, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, but this year, for the first time, they are expected to dip.

U.S. consumers are expected to spend an average $136.57 – down from the record high last year of $146.84. Total V-Day spending is estimated to reach $18.2 billion, which is down from $19.7 billion last year. That’s a huge drop in sales and experts are taking a look at the reasons why consumers are spending less this year. Valentine’s Day is still a popular gift-giving occasion, but here are some of the reasons behind why the total spend isn’t expected to be as high as in year’s past.

Bargain Shopping

As retailers struggle to reverse declining mall traffic trends, consumers are falling deeper in love with bargains. Even if people are still planning to purchase gifts to celebrate the holiday, they might be spending quite a bit less on those gifts. couple-on-a-valentines-day-date.jpg

Experience Gifts

Another reason why spending has slowed down is that people aren’t buying as many traditional gifts as before. Consumers are planning to spend less on jewelry, flowers, candy, cards and gift certificates. Instead, they are leaning more toward “experience gifts” like tickets to a concert or event, gym memberships, classes, outdoor adventures, vacations and other gifts that aren’t bought in a store.

Less Holiday Celebration

The number of people planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year has also dropped. Valentine’s Day spending has grown steadily over the last decade, but the number of people participating dropped by nearly 10 percentage points from 2007 to 2017. People aren’t getting as into the holiday spirit this year for a variety of reasons.

Older Population

The proportion of older people in the U.S. population is rising. Younger people are more interested in courting potential mates and participate more in the holiday spending more than older adults who are more settled in their relationships and whose children are grown.  

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Topics: holiday, Retail, Experience, gifts, valentine's day

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