Cautious consumers keep Cupid at bay

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WASHINGTON — Love is in the air this Valentine’s Day but consumers aren’t quite ready to shell out the big bucks for their loved ones as much as they were last year.

The 2013 Valentine’s Day spending survey conducted by BIGinsight shows only a slight increase in expected sales this year with the average person planning to spend $130.97 on candy, cards, gifts and more, up from $126.03 last year.

Total spending will reach $18.6 billion.

“Valentine’s Day remains one of the biggest gift-giving holidays of the year, and although consumers will be conscientious with their spending, it’s great to see that millions of Americans are still looking forward to celebrating with their loved ones,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay.

“Recognizing their customers will shop for both price and value, retailers and restaurants will offer plenty of promotions for anyone looking to spoil those that mean the most to them this February 14th.”

Choices

A mix of traditional and non-traditional Valentine’s Day gifts will be popular this year. More than half (51.0 percent) of gift givers will buy candy, spending $1.6 billion in total, and another one-third (36.6 percent) will give flowers, with total spending expected to top $1.9 billion.

Others will treat their special someone to jewelry (19.7 percent), spending more than $4.4 billion on diamonds, gold and silver. An additional 15.6 percent will buy clothing, spending more than $1.6 billion.

Gift cards, the gift that keeps on giving, will also be on the top of shoppers’ lists; 15.0 percent of gift givers will buy gift cards for their loved ones, totaling to $1.5 billion.

As price and value continue to top gift-givers minds, there will be no shortage of comparison shopping this Valentine’s Day, and much of it will be online.

The survey found that more than one-quarter (26.3 percent) of those celebrating this year plan to shower their loved ones with gifts found online, up from 19.3 percent last year and the most in the survey’s 10-year history.

Other shoppers will seek out the perfect gift at discount stores (39.6 percent), department stores (33.2 percent), specialty stores (22.9 percent), floral shops (19.6 percent),  jewelry stores (11.2 percent), specialty clothing stores (7.5 percent) and through catalogs (2.6 percent).

Other family members

Celebrating Valentine’s Day isn’t always for couples; though people plan to spend the most on their significant other ($73.75), 60.6 percent of shoppers plan to show their appreciation for other family members and will spend an average of $26.46.

One-quarter (25.2 percent) of celebrants will buy gifts for friends, spending an average of $8.49, and 13.2 percent say they will buy Valentine’s Day gifts for their co-workers, planning to shell out an average of $5.12 on their colleagues.

Pets

Consumers haven’t forgotten about their four-legged friends either: two in five (20.0 percent) Americans plan to buy gifts for their pets this year, with total spending expected to reach $815 million.

The average male that has been hit by Cupid’s arrow will spend significantly more than the average woman this year.

Men will spend an average of $175.61 on jewelry, flowers, a romantic evening out and more, while their counterparts will spend approximately $88.78.

“The mantra ‘it’s the thought that counts,’ might be most applicable for holidays like Valentine’s Day, and there’s no question that this year’s budget-conscious gift givers will keep this in mind while out looking for the perfect gift,” says BIGinsight consumer insights director Pam Goodfellow.

“There will be no shortage of deals in the coming days, so frugal consumers will keep a keen eye out for promotions on chocolates, flowers and even dining.”

Additionally, four in 10 (40.7 percent) smartphone owners will use their handhelds to shop for gifts, and 46.9 percent of tablet owners will use their devices to purchase items, research gift ideas and more.

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