3 common Valentine's Day myths

VP, Industry and Consumer Insights
February 6, 2020

From the signature red and pink displays to the stacks of heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, it’s clear that February 14 is just around the corner. While participation in Valentine’s Day may be down compared with a decade ago, it still remains popular among most consumers. More than half say they plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, according to the annual survey from NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics, with spending expected to reach an all-time high. Last year, NRF examined key ways consumers’ attitudes toward the holiday are shifting. This year, we took another look at the data to discover the truth behind three common assumptions about how Valentine’s Day is celebrated.

Myth: It’s just for people

While romance remains at the heart of why consumers celebrate Valentine’s Day, the holiday has come to encompass so much more. In fact, much of the growth in Valentine’s Day spending over the last decade has been fueled by consumers’ interest in celebrating the other important relationships in their lives — friends, co-workers and, increasingly, pets: This year 27 percent of those celebrating say they are buying gifts for their pets, up from 17 percent in 2010. At the same time, expected spending on pet gifts has grown exponentially, from just $450 million to more than $1.7 billion during that same time period. Surprisingly, the trend is not just being driven by younger consumers like millennials and Gen Zers; spending on gifts for pets has grown among all shoppers under the age of 55.

Myth: ‘Galentine’s Day’ is a thing

The phrase “Galentine’s Day” originated in a 2010 episode of the television show “Parks and Rec” as a way to celebrate female friendships. Since then, the pseudo-holiday has taken on a life of its own, appearing in everything from book titles to gift guides and even earning its own hashtag. All of this begs the question: Is Galentine’s Day really a thing? The data might back this one up. Since 2010, expected spending on Valentine’s Day gifts for friends has nearly tripled, from $737 million to $2.1 billion. Even among those who don’t celebrate the holiday, one in 10 say they are planning get-togethers with other single friends or family members. And while the myth might be that it’s just women celebrating their friendships, men are actually slightly more likely to say they are getting together with their single friends or family members. 


Myth: It’s what’s in the box that counts

It’s not just who gets celebrated on Valentine’s Day that’s changed, but also what’s being given. As NRF noted last year, while items like jewelry, candy or flowers remain popular, consumers are increasingly interested in creating memorable experiences. This year, 28 percent of consumers are planning a gift of experience for Valentine’s Day, jumping to nearly half among millennials between the ages of 25 and 34. Even traditional gift categories are getting an experiential update: UncommonGoods updates date-night dinner with a molecular gastronomy cooking kit and Vinebox sends single-serving vials of wine for an at-home tasting experience. For a truly unique item, Waft lets consumers design a custom fragrance.

As Valentine’s Day continues to evolve, retailers are following suit and creating offerings to ensure all consumers can participate, regardless of who or how they plan to celebrate.  

To learn more, visit NRF’s Valentine’s Day headquarters.

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