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Valentine’s Day: lovebirds splash the cash despite economic gloom

This year shoppers in the UK and the US are expected to spend billions on loved ones this Valentine’s Day, providing a much-needed economic boost for their respective economies at a time when economic uncertainty is high.

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On Thursday, Valentine’s Day shoppers on both sides of the Atlantic are set to spend billions on everything to cards and candy to romantic getaways and dining out.

According to the National Retail Federation, consumers are expected to add $20.7 billion to the US economy on Valentine’s this year, up from the 19.2 billion love sick shoppers spent on occasion in 2018, representing a 7.8% increase.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, British lovebirds refuse to be out done by their American counterparts, with Valentine’s spending set to increase by 3.1% this year, adding £1.4 billion to the UK economy, according to data from IBISWorld.

What are people buying their Valentine this year?

The vast majority of UK consumers are splashing their cash on experiences like hotels and restaurants in the hope of wooing their love interest, with British consumers expected to spend around £391 million on dining out and £267 million on romantic getaways this year.

But despite British consumers looking to spend more on experiences in 2019, many will still be buying conventional gifts like sweets and flowers. However, retailers are anticipated to offer a wider variety of personalise products this year, allowing consumers to buy gifts that offer something a little special.

Meanwhile in the US, the old adage of ‘it’s the thought that counts’ still rings true, with consumers over the Atlantic preferring to shop for less expensive gifts, with shoppers looking to pick up a box of chocolates and a card for their loved one.

Where are people buying on Valentine’s Day?

In the US, around 35% of shoppers will hit the high street or department stores to pick up gifts for their Valentine this year, but more and more people are looking to buy online, with around 27% expected to hop onto Amazon and other digital retailers.

But 18% of Valentine’s Day shoppers will head to speciality stores to find something unique for their partner that can’t be found on the high street and 16% will make sure to stop by a florist’s to grab a bouquet of flowers.

Valentine’s Day shoppers can expect to see retailers’ shelves stock with deals to entice them to spend their hard-earned money during these tough economic times.

Who is doing the spending this Valentine’s Day?

Valentine’s Day spending is higher than ever this year, but it has certainly lost its charm, with fewer people celebrating. In fact, in the US only 51% of the population is taking part this year, the lowest since 2009, with a record high of 63% celebrating back in 2007.

‘The vast majority of Valentine’s Day dollars are still spent on significant others, but there’s a big increase this year in consumers spreading the love to children, parents, friends and co-workers,’ NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said.

‘Those who are participating are spending more than ever and that could be the result of the strong economy. With employment and income growing, consumers appear to be expanding the scope of who qualifies for a card or a box of candy,’ he added.

Anti-Valentine’s Day spending is on the rise

The other 49% of US consumers that are opting out of Valentine’s Day celebrations are still likely to treat themselves or non-romantic loved one with a gift this year, with a third of them doing something a little untraditional this year.

According to the NRF, 11% are giving themselves some love by buying something special and 9% are getting together with family or friends to spread some love.

In 2018, 4% rebelled against the holiday altogether by purchasing an "anti" Valentine's Day gift.

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