Numerator has released findings from a consumer sentiment study aiming to understand how consumers plan to celebrate and spend for Valentine’s Day 2022.

Numerator says consumers indicate a willingness to return to pre-pandemic behaviors across celebration plans, gifting categories and shopping methods. Alcohol showed the steepest increase in intended gifting, while electronics and jewelry continued to decline as consumers plan to shop for Valentine’s Day gifts.  

Valentine’s Day is a shopping holiday at heart, with 52 percent of Valentine’s Day celebrators planning to buy gifts, either for themselves or for others, an increase of 4 points from Valentine’s Day 2021. However, gift buying still remains well below pre-pandemic norms, down 16 points from February 2020.

Dining out is showing a strong rebound. More than one-third (36 percent) of consumers intend to go out for food or drinks on Valentine’s Day this year, up from 17 percent in 2021, and climbing back toward the 45 percent of consumers who planned to dine out in February 2020.

Pandemic behaviors like cooking at home and ordering delivery are sticking. Both cooking at home and ordering takeout food were the only two celebration plans to gain popularity during the pandemic, growing 10-plus points from 2020 to 2021. In 2022, both showed only slight decreases, indicating that these behaviors may be lasting.

Nearly three-quarters of consumers say inflation will affect their Valentine’s spending. Half of respondents expect rising prices to have a slight impact on their Valentine's Day shopping, and 24 percent expect a significant impact. To combat rising prices, 43 percent of consumers plan to look for promotions and coupons, 32 percent plan to shop at different retailers, and 24 percent say they will buy in smaller quantities this year.

Candy will appear in 3 in 5 Valentine’s baskets – with other food items not far behind. To celebrate Valentine’s Day in 2022, 62 percent of consumers plan to buy candy, followed by cards (59 percent), food (52 percent), flowers (28 percent), alcoholic beverages (23 percent), clothes (15 percent), spa products (11 percent), and jewelry (10 percent).

Gen Z and younger Millennial consumers are shifting Valentine’s gifting categories. This group is 49 percent more likely than older generations to buy experiential gifts (e.g. concert tickets, travel), 29 percent more likely to buy alcohol, 23 percent more likely to buy clothes, and 15 percent more likely to buy spa products. On the other side, younger generations are 17 percent less likely than older generations to purchase greeting cards for Valentine’s Day.

Traditional Valentine’s gifts are showing multi-year declines among consumers. Electronics, accessories and jewelry showed the biggest drops in gifting for the second year in a row, while alcohol and food gifts increased in popularity.

Flowers maintain a steady decline as a Valentine’s go-to gift. In February 2020, just under half of consumers (46 percent) planned to buy Valentine’s Day flowers, falling to 31 percent of consumers in 2021 and 28 percent in 2022, possibly a result of consumers spending more time at home.

Half of consumers will shop online for Valentine’s Day – but many plan to return to in-store shopping. Just under half (48 percent) of consumers plan to do their Valentine’s Day shopping online, down from 53 percent of consumers in 2021. The percentage of consumers planning to shop in many in-store channels showed increases versus 2021 levels, led by dollar (+10 points), club (+7 points), and grocery (+4 points).

Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X are significantly more likely than Boomers+ to shop online for Valentine’s Day. More than half of younger consumers plan to shop online retailers, compared to 36 percent of consumers ages 55-64 and 29 percent of consumers ages 65 and older.

Millennials are significantly more likely than other generations to spend $200-plus for Valentine’s Day, while Gen X is more likely to spend in the $51-$200 range. Gen Z consumers are the most likely group to say they will increase their candy purchases for this year’s Valentine’s Day, with 32 percent planning to buy more candy than Valentine’s Day 2021 and 13 percent planning to buy significantly more.

The 2022 Numerator Valentine’s Day survey was fielded Jan.12-18, 2022 to 1,175 consumers who plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day 2022. Numerator panelists self-identify for demographic and psychographic attributes.