For the first time ever, total Valentine’s Day spending is projected to top $20 billion in the United States — despite falling participation. Just 51% of American adults plan to celebrate the holiday, the smallest share in at least a decade and down from 55% last year.
In a statement from Matthew Shay, CEO of industry advocacy group National Retail Federation, greater spending among those participating in the holiday is likely driven by the strong economy. While some of that spending will go towards friends, coworkers, and family, the vast majority of Valentine’s Day spending will be between spouses and significant others.
Specific Valentine’s Day plans vary by couple, but many will be sticking to tried and true traditions. According to an NRF survey, 15% of American adults plan on buying a gift certificate, 18% plan to buy clothing and jewelry, more than a third plan on an evening out, 35% plan on buying flowers, 44% will buy a greeting card, and more than half plan on buying candy.
Based on the popularity of those gifts and average anticipated spending on them, 24/7 Wall St. created a weighted average to determine how much a couple is likely to spend on the holiday this year. We adjusted that figure for inflation to determine how much the holiday would cost every year going back to 1948. Because going to the movies is also a popular way to celebrate Valentine’s, we also included the average cost of a movie ticket each year from the National Association of Theatre Owners.
With costs rising every year, it may be no coincidence that Valentine’s Day spending is projected to hit a record high in 2019 — even as participation is expected to hit a decade low.