Marriage Rates are Falling, But Valentines Are Spending

Graphic of a woman in a pink gown holding a bouquet sitting on the floor, being offered a hand by a man in a tuxedo.

Matters of the heart may not matter much more in America.

Since 1950, marriage rates have fallen by over one third, while interest in celebrating Valentine’s Day has also fallen by 12 percentage points since 2007, reports the National Retail Federation.

This, however, hasn’t discouraged those who will celebrate the holiday from spoiling their loved ones. Americans are expected to spend a record amount of $20.7b on Valentine’s Day this year on gifts for everyone from parents and spouses to friends and pets.

Matthew Shay, President and CEO of the NRF credits a strong economy for the 13% expected increase in sales this year, an average spend of $161.96 as compared to $143.84 last year.

What are Americans buying this year?

The highest spend on gifts has consistently been for jewelry, for which romantics plan to spend about $3.9b, followed by an evening out, which could cost $3.5b. Greeting cards come in last place for total spend and have shown a downward trend since 2009, where 58% of those celebrating Valentine’s Day said they would purchase a card, compared to 44% expected to purchase one in 2019. According to the NRF, greeting card purchases decrease by age group, with those aged 65+ purchasing the most and those ages 18-24 purchasing the fewest.

Conversely, Americans aged 18-24 are purchasing the most candy while those aged 65+ are purchasing the least candy, likely for health reasons.

Where are they shopping?

35% of shoppers will go to a department store, 32% will opt for a discount store. Nearly one third will also order their gifts online, including flowers and sweets. Jewelry stores will only attract 9% of shoppers.

Who are they shopping for?

Pets will be getting lots of love this year, with the NRF expecting Americans to spend over $300 million more on gifts for their pets than they did in 2008.

23% of the increase in average spend will go to to spouses or significant others while spenders widen the scope of those they choose to buy gifts for. That includes family members, friends, children’s classmates or teachers, and even co-workers.

“Valentine’s Day means different things for different people,” Prosper Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “Whether it’s a day of romance or one of making sure their children have enough cards in their backpacks for each of their classmates, it’s an important day for those who choose to participate.”