Better Savings Habits? Not on V-Day

Two studies, one from Citibank and one from the National Retail Federation, both found that Americans will be spending more this Valentine’s Day than last year.   

The Citibank survey also showed that savings habits have improved and social spending has taken a hit since the recession.   The survey included 2,002 adults nationally from January 10-17.  Seventy-three percent said that it is extremely (33%) or very important (40%) for them to personally save money.

The survey, conducted by Hart Research Associates, found that significant levels of Americans are making lifestyle changes to cut the fat from their budgets, including:

  • 52% report they are cooking their own food more often
  • 48% report they are staying home rather than going out more often
  • 41% are saving and using coupons more frequently
  • 35% are driving less, carpooling and combining trips to save gas more often
  • 32% are bringing their lunch to work more frequently

A majority of Americans (52%) believe the way they spend and save has changed permanently, while only one in four (25%) feel their spending and saving will eventually turn back to the way it was before the economic downturn, and 14% believe that things have already gone back to how they were.

Back to how they were…  

The National Retail Federation (NRF) looks at expected Valentine’s Day spending annually.  This year, its survey found that the average person will spend $116.21 on traditional Valentine’s Day merchandise.  That’s up 11% from last year’s $103.00. 2009 was similar to 2010, with $102.50 as the average amount spent, but looking back to Valentine’s Day 2007 and 2008 – average spending was $119.67 and $122.98, respectively.   

“Having surpassed expectations during the holiday season, it seems consumers are not done spending on gifts, which bodes well for the economy,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Jewelry, candy and apparel sales should provide a nice boost for retailers during the typically slower months of January and February.”

Citibank’s survey had slightly different dollar amounts, but the pattern is the same – V-Day spending is up this year over last.  Some of Citi’s findings include:

  • Those who are comfortable with their personal savings level plan to spend $127, those who are uncomfortable plan on spending $94
  • Men plan to spend $136, women, $85
  • 18-34 year-olds plan to spend $147, seniors, $77
  • Those who are unmarried but living with a partner plan to spend $180, those who are single, $125, those who are divorced, $125, and those who are married, $100.
  • One in three Americans (33%) reports that they do not typically spend any money on Valentine’s Day. Women (38%) are more likely than men (27%) to say this is the case.
  • Dinner is by far the most likely Valentine’s Day gift, as 46% of Americans expect to spend money on a meal. Cards (26%), flowers (22%), gifts other than jewelry, flowers, or candy (21%), and candy (20%) are also popular items that Americans plan to spend money on this Valentine’s Day, with wine, beer, or cocktails (12%) and jewelry (8%) making appearances as well.