Recession takes aim at Cupid this year

Apparently not even Cupid is immune to the effects of the recession. Couples will spend 5.8 percent less on tokens of love this Valentine’s Day. They are expected to spend an average of $63.34 on their significant other, compared with $67.22 last year. 

As in previous years, men expect to spend nearly twice the amount women spend on the holiday, $135.35 versus $72.28, according to Washington, D.C.-based trade association National Retail Federation and its 2010 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey.
“While some may view Valentine’s Day as cliché, many people still look forward to giving significant others, friends, family, and even pets something special,” Tracy Mullin, NRF’s president and CEO, said of the survey results. “Rather than not give anything at all, consumers will instead focus on small, thoughtful gifts for the people who mean the most to them this year.” 
Although couples plan to spend less on each other this year, survey results indicate they will spend more on family, friends, co-workers, and Fido or Mittens. However, don’t get too excited if you are expecting a Valentine’s Day gift from a coworker. Survey respondents expect to spend an average of $2.84 on colleagues – which is less than the $3.27 they plan to spend on gifts for their pets.
Spending on Valentine’s Day gifts for pets is expected to be more than 50% higher than last year’s $2.17. For coworkers, spending is expected to increase 46%, compared with the $1.94 average spent in 2009. Consumers anticipate spending $5.37 on friends, up 13.3% from $4.74 last year.
Overall, consumers will spend $103 on Valentine’s Day merchandise this year, which is 50 cents more than they did in 2009, but 16.2% less than the $122.98 spent in 2008, according to the survey conducted by Worthington, OH-based marketing research firm BIGresearch. Total holiday spending this year is expected to reach $14.1 billion among consumers at least 18 years old.
Perhaps indicative of the economic times, the survey indicates that personal and practical gifts will trump gifts of extravagance. More than 14% of consumers reported they will be purchasing clothing this year, up from 10.2% last year. The percentage of consumers purchasing jewelry is expected to decrease 4.5 percentage points from 16% a year ago.
“The economy has forced consumers to rethink their gift giving practices,” said Phil Rist, executive vice president of strategic initiatives at BIGresearch. “Personal and unique gifts will speak volumes this Valentine’s Day as consumers dig deep into their hearts and not their wallets.”
Nearly 41% of consumers will head to discount stores for their Valentine’s Day shopping, according to the survey, while 31.1% will shop at department stores and 21.4% will shop at specialty stores, such as florists, electronics stores, and greeting cards and gift stores.
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