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Friday, February 14, 2020

All Alone on Valentine’s Day: 12 Econ Facts to Fill the Void

Whether you're single, taken, or just don't care, here are some facts to get you through the day.

Image credit: Pixabay | Pixabay license (

It’s a holiday that means different things to different people. Some pass the day without a thought. Some spend it sharing a tasty meal and libations with a significant other or a few close friends. Others might find themselves face-down in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, wondering where it all went wrong. That’s right ladies and gents, it’s Valentine’s Day.

Depending on one’s relationship status, the day might seem insignificant, but from an economic standpoint, it is anything but. Valentine’s Day is a major day for consumer spending, with big profits for retail, restaurants, and florists.

As a report compiled by the National Retail Federation shows, Americans are predicted to set a spending record for the heart-shaped holiday this year. This is due to strong employment numbers, higher average wages, and rising consumer confidence. The report also shows that people are spending money and time on their pets, co-workers, and friends rather than significant others (Galentine’s Day, anyone?).

Below are a few more economic fun-facts related to the holiday:

  1. Americans are projected to spend a total of $27.4 billion on Valentine’s Day in 2020.
  2. That’s 31 percent more than last year’s record of $20.7 billion.
  3. Fifty-five percent of Americans plan on celebrating the day. (Fewer are celebrating, but those who do are spending more.)
  4. Those celebrating will spend an average of $191.31, up 21 percent from last year’s record of $161.96.
  5. Fifty-two percent of total spending will be on spouses and significant others, which is down from 61 percent in 2010.
  6. Fifteen percent of total spending will be on family members, which is down from 20 percent in 2010.
  7. In the past decade, spending is up percentage-wise for friends (5 to 7 percent), classmates (4 to 7 percent), co-workers (3 to 7 percent), and pets (3 to 6 percent).
  8. Since 2010, expected spending on gifts for friends has tripled from $737 million to $2.1 billion.
  9. Men will spend more on average than women—$291.15 compared to $106.22.
  10. Among adults, Gen Z (those aged 18-24) are the most likely to not celebrate Valentine’s Day but still mark the occasion. (Pretty much an anti-Valentine’s Day where they purchase an ironic gift, treat themselves, or hang out with friends while mocking the day. It’s just Gen Z being Gen Z.)
  11. Thirty-five percent of Gen Z who aren’t celebrating plan to “treat yo’ self.”
  12. What exactly will consumers be spending their money on?
    • $5.8 billion on jewelry (21 percent of Valentine’s Day consumers)
    • $4.3 billion on an evening out (34 percent)
    • $2.9 billion on clothing (20 percent)
    • $2.4 billion on candy (52 percent)
    • $2.3 billion on flowers (37 percent)
    • $2 billion on gift cards (19 percent)
    • $1.3 billion on greeting cards (43 percent)

Treat Yo’ Self and Yo’ Pet

So what do all these numbers signify? Well for one, younger people are making the day less about their family or significant others and more about quality time with their friends. Younger people are also placing increasing value on their pets, even more so than last year. They’re also more apt to spend money on themselves as a treat. The preferences of young people are changing, and businesses/entrepreneurs would be wise to take heed. (Dog park/human spa hybrid, anyone?)

P.S.: This anti-Valentine’s Day piñata sums up my generation’s ironic approach to the holiday: