Valentine’s Day spending is expected to look extra rosy, according to a survey sponsored by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
American consumers are projected to shell out $19.6 billion on jewelry, flowers and other gifts — up frm $18.2 billion in 2017 and just shy of the record $19.7 billion spent in 2016.
Lovebirds and doting family members are expected to spend $1.8 billion on candy, up from $1.7 billion last year. They’ll also spend $4.7 billion on jewelry, $3.7 billion on an evening out, $2 billion on flowers, $1.9 billion on clothing, $1.5 billion on gift cards/gift certificates and $894 million on greeting cards.
“Gifts of experience,” such as tickets to a concert or sporting event, continue to be popular, sought by 42 percent of consumers, but only 24 percent plan to give one. At 41 percent of those surveyed, consumers ages 25-34 are the most likely to give such a gift.
“Americans are looking forward to pampering and indulging their loved ones with flowers, candy, dinner and all of the other Valentine’s Day stops,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “With the holidays behind them and the winter months dragging along, consumers are looking for something to celebrate this time of year.”
On average, consumers are projected to spend $143.56, representing a 5 percent increase from last year’s $136.57. This year’s average just missed the record $146.84 projected in 2016.
Just over a third of consumers plan to shop at department stores, while 32 percent will visit discount stores and 19 percent will visit specialty stores. Nearly 30 percent will shop online, and 17 percent will visits florists. Roughly 15 percent of consumers will shop at local small businesses. 
Even those foregoing Valentine’s Day festivities are expected to spend. More than a quarter (27 percent) of consumers not observing the holiday have an alternative in mind, such as treating themselves in some way or getting together with family and friends. 
“Valentine’s Day has become a holiday consumers take advantage of not only to spoil their loved ones but themselves,” said Phil Rist, Prosper executive v.p. of strategy.
The survey, which asked 7,277 consumers about their Valentine’s Day plans, was conducted Jan. 3-10.