The DataHero Blog

Valentine’s Day Spending

February 13th, 2014


Perhaps you subscribe to the idea that Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday invented by greeting card and flower companies as a creative way to make more money. Or perhaps you choose to see the day as a great way to express love for the important person(s) in your life. Regardless of your views on Valentine’s Day, gift giving is a huge part of this holiday, and by combining data from the US Census and other data sources, we start to get a clearer picture of how Americans spend money on Valentine’s Day.

Below is a percentage chart representing revenue only in the month of February broken down by sectors related to Valentine’s Day spending. This data is gathered from the U.S. Census between 1994 and 2013.

Sectors were affected differently by the recession between 2008 and 2011. You can see that restaurants and bars saw a percentage increase of the Valentine’s Day spending pie in 2008 and 2009. Department stores seem to be gradually losing percentage points of Valentine’s Day spending, with a slow but steady decrease from 1994 -2013. The jewelry and liquor sectors have a steady hold on spending in the month of February, seeing neither significant decreases nor increases.

How do these industries change month to month? If we look at the industries that contribute heavily to Valentine’s Day spending by month, there are definite trends here as well. Below is a chart that shows the change in revenue by industry by month, aggregated from 1994-2013.

January is historically a slow month for most retail as consumers recover from their holiday spending. Revenue increases in February but even more so in March. It seems that Valentine’s Day alone may not be enough to drag the retail market out of the post-holiday slump.

Valentine’s Day spending is not all created equal though. Data suggests that it depends quite heavily on what you buy, your age, gender and even where you live.

Below is a chart of Valentine’s Day predicted spending for 2013 based on a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation broken down by age and gift. The values reflect the average amount consumers predicted they would spend on each gift.


Jewelry commands the top spot for Valentine’s Day expenditures in terms of average amount predicted to be spent on each gift, especially if you’re in the 25-34 age bracket. Jewelry also some of the most significant disparity between age ranges, showing a distinct rise until the 35-44 age bracket, then a fall until the 55-64 range.

If we look at income bracket, there are some distinct trends here as well. This is the average predicted amount spent on each gift by income bracket:

Consumers in the under $50K income bracket favor flowers, while consumers in the 50K and up bracket spend more in every other category, with the most significant gap in jewelry spending.

In a similar graph below, you’ll see the difference in Valentine’s Day spending by gender:


Men spend more on average than women, again with the most significant gap being in jewelry purchases. An evening out and clothing are also gifts that men appear to favor, while flowers are nearly equal.

Distinctive regional patterns exist as well in Valentine’s Day gift-giving. Below we have average amount consumers intend to spend on gifts by region.


The South seems to favor clothing and greeting cards more than any other region, while the north east heavily favors jewelry more than any other region.

Flowers are clearly a very popular option for Valentine’s Day gifters. What I found interesting was the discrepancy in who flowers were being gifted to, depending on the gender of the person who purchased the flowers. Below is a donut chart of the people who receive flowers from men on Valentine’s Day.


Spouses and significant others make up the majority of recipients, while mothers and children follow.

I found female flower purchasers to be more interesting.


Spouses are still the most common recipients of flowers from women, followed by mothers, children, and then the women themselves. A full 10% of women purchase flowers for themselves on this holiday.

Have your own sales or Valentine’s Day data to analyze? Import it into DataHero and see what trends you can uncover. Or you can download this Valentine’s Day dataset.

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Download the Valentine’s Day datasets here.


By Kelli Simpson

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