Valentine’s Day Spending to Top $26 Billion

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Tomorrow¬†is Valentine’s Day, and if you don’t want to be left out of the celebration you’d better hurry and do your part to help retailers reach the expected U.S. spending total of $26.2 billion for the holiday. That’s an average of $130.70 for the 81% of Americans who say they plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year.

Of that total spending, researchers at estimate that two-thirds of that ($17.3 billion) will be charged to credit cards. Most of that spending will be used to buy gifts for two-legged friends, but 28% of celebrants plan to buy gifts for the dogs and 17% say they’ll buy gifts for the cats. Spending on pets is expected to average $25 for dogs and $21 for cats, for a total of more than $750 million.

Buying a gift for yourself on Valentine’s Day is also a growing phenomenon. According to, 27% of single people and 33% of separated people plan to buy something for themselves. Only 7% of married people plan to buy themselves a gift this year.

The gift-giving has spread even further and now includes family member, friends and coworkers. Gen Xers are the most likely group to purchase a gift for friends (55%) compared with 43% of millennials and just 28% of boomers.

But in the slightly naughty department of buying a gift for a secret lover, millennials (23%) appear to be naughtier than Gen Xers (14%) or boomers (8%). Overall, 17% of gifts will be purchased for secret lovers.

In terms of monetary value, wives receive (and deserve) the priciest gifts. Husbands (we presume) spend an average of $232 on gifts for their wives while wives spend an average of $66 on gifts for their husbands. Men spend $151 on their girlfriends and women spend $53 on their boyfriends.

For those of you keeping score at home, two dogs or three cats are cheaper than one boyfriend, and two dogs are only slightly more expensive than one husband. Just sayin’.