Valentine’s Day: In-store shopping, dining out rebounds; inflation concerns

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
Valentines gift
Nearly three-quarters of consumers say inflation will affect their Valentine’s spending

Consumers are returning to some pre-pandemic behaviors when it comes to celebrating Valentine’s Day this year.

Dining out is showing a big rebound, with 36% of consumers intending to go out for food or drinks on Valentine’s Day, up from 17% in 2021, and climbing back toward the 45% of consumers who planned to dine out in February 2020, according to a survey by Numerator.

Forty-eight percent of consumers plan to do their Valentine’s Day shopping online, down from 53% of consumers in 2021. The percentage of consumers planning to shop in many in-store channels showed increases vs 2021 levels, led by dollar stores (up 10 points), warehouse clubs (up seven points), and grocery (up four points).

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% expect a significant impact. To combat rising prices, 43% of consumers plan to look for promotions and coupons, 32% plan to shop at different retailers, and 24% say they will buy in smaller quantities this year. 

The survey found that 52% of Valentine’s Day celebrators are planning to buy gifts, either for themselves or for others, up four points from Valentine’s Day 2021. However, gift buying still remains well below pre-pandemic norms, down 16 points from February 2020.

Other survey findings are below.

• 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 2022, 28% of consumers said they plan to buy Valentine’s Day flowers, down from 31% in 2021 and 46% in 2020.

• Pandemic behaviors such as 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. 

To celebrate Valentine’s Day in 2022, 62% of consumers plan to buy candy, followed by cards (59%), food (52%), flowers (28%), alcoholic beverages (23%), clothes (15%), spa products (11%), and jewelry (10%).

• 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% of consumers ages 55-64 and 29% of consumers ages 65-plus.

• Gen Z and younger millennial consumers are shifting Valentine’s gifting categories. This group is 49% more likely than older generations to buy experiential gifts (e.g. concert tickets, travel), 29% more likely to buy alcohol, 23% more likely to buy clothes, and 15% more likely to buy spa products.

On the other side, younger generations are 17% less likely than older generations to purchase greeting cards for Valentine’s Day.

Millennials are significantly more likely than other generations to spend more than $200 for Valentine’s Day, while Gen X is more likely to spend in the $51 to $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% planning to buy more candy than Valentine’s Day 2021 and 13% planning to buy significantly more. 

The 2022 Numerator Valentine’s Day survey was fielded between 1/12/2022 and 1/18/2022 to 1,175 consumers who plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day 2022.

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