The statistics from 2019 show that Valentine’s Day trends are heading in opposite directions.
As Millennials begin to surpass Baby Boomers as the United States’ largest adult population, sentiments and spending habits are changing as well — perfectly illustrated by the traditional February holiday. In 2019, the number of Americans who planned to celebrate Valentine’s Day dropped to 51%, but those who said they do celebrate actually spent more (at $162 per person). Overall spending for the holiday was projected to eclipse $20 billion for the first time last year.
Millennials tend to do things differently, and that change in attitudes is reshaping Valentine’s Day shopping trends.
Celebrated on February 14, Valentine’s Day (also referred to as St. Valentine’s Day) is historically a salute to love all around the world. The Christian feast day was established around 500 A.D., though there are conflicting stories about three saints named Valentine or Valentinus for whom the feast day was named.
As a way to acknowledge and celebrate the holiday, the first commercialized exchange of valentines occurred in the 18th century in England. Spending has only increased since.
The amount of money spent on Valentine’s Day might still be increasing, but individual participation appears to be waning. Those who choose not to celebrate said they found the holiday over-commercialized, did not have a partner to celebrate with, or were simply disinterested.
According to the National Retail Federation, adult consumers are showing less enthusiasm for the holiday than they did a decade ago. In 2009, 72% of consumers aged 18 to 34 and 65% of adults aged 35 to 54 celebrated Valentine’s Day. Ten years later, only around half of the surveyed adults across all age groups planned festivities.
One might think these Valentine’s Day trends stem from Millennials’ inclination to delay major life decisions compared to previous generations. Millennials are staying single longer, and they are getting married later in life. In 1965, the median age of first marriages was just under 21 for women. Today, that number exceeds 27. Men have also been waiting longer, going from a median age of 22.8 in 1965 to 29.8 in 2018.
However, older generations are actually the least likely to celebrate Valentine’s Day. According to the NRF, the 55-plus age group was consistently less likely to celebrate the holiday when compared to 18- to 34-year-olds and 35- to 54-year-olds.
How much do we spend on Valentine’s Day? Overall, Millennials spend an average of $161 on their partners, with 15% of younger Millennials expecting to spend more than $500. In comparison, Generation X consumers spend about $270, while Baby Boomers spend only about $150.
With fewer people celebrating Valentine’s Day, there has to be a reason for the increase in spending around the holiday. Truthfully, Valentine’s Day is not just for lovers. Many younger consumers who are not participating in Valentine’s Day are still choosing to mark the occasion one way or another.
Below are some of the Valentine’s Day shopping trends that are gaining popularity:
Even though only slightly more than half of Americans say they celebrate Valentine’s Day now, the holiday is still lucrative. Valentine’s Day is no longer just about romance with a significant other. It is quickly becoming an opportunity for consumers to showcase their affection for all people — and pets — in their lives. And businesses will be the ones feeling the love.
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