Valentine’s Day Spending Data Surprises

Valentine’s Day remains a source of controversy and tension for many people.  Some complain it’s a “Hallmark” holiday that tries to commercialise love by forcing people to shop.  In recent years, resistance has grown, so much so, that media outlets have speculated that Valentine’s Day might be dying.

At Pocketbook, we let the numbers be our guide and if there was some way we could help people become more conscious about how they spend on Valentine’s Day, we wanted to find out.

So we dug down into our data to conduct one of the largest studies into Australian spending on Valentine’s Day.  We looked at spending over the past 4 years (2013-2016) with a specific focus on the 14th (Valentine’s Day) as well as the two-week period leading up toward the day – 1st to the 14th.

Analysis for Valentine’s day spending was split across three times periods and different types of merchants – commonly used for experiences and gifts to celebrate the day.

1st – 14th (period leading to Valentine’s day) Merchants analysed were items that typically require advanced purchases:

  • Jewellery stores
  • Ticketing retailers (such as Ticketek, Ticketmaster etc.)
  • Activities (such as Redballoon, rock climbing and ice skating etc.)

14th (Valentine’s day) merchants that are analysed were:

  • Florists
  • Restaurants & take away
  • Transport (limited to taxi’s, Uber, Ingogo, GoGet and others)
  • Movies

Total sample for the study was: 135,449


Hypothesis 1: Men spend more than women on Valentine’s Day

Based on analysis of the past 4 years, men on average, spend $123.10 compared to the $90.54 women spend during the Valentine’s Day period (1st – 14th Feb). The median is $65.40 for men and $54.83 for women – meaning most people spend less that $100.

Across the merchant types, men tend to spend more (per person) than women on restaurants, florists, travel, Jewellery and activities. But here’s a surprising twist: When it comes to movies, women spend almost double on Valentine’s Day.

  • Florists – men spend 10% more than women; $68.26 Male, $56.49 Female
  • Restaurants – men spend 6% more than women; $75.49 Male, $67.19 Female
  • Travel expenses – men spend 15% more than women; $34.61 Male, $25.83 Female
  • Movies – men spend 30% less than women; $29.02 Male, $54.42 Female
  • Jewellery – men spend 27% more than women; $179.28 Male, $103.57 Female
  • Activities – men spend 4% more than women; $78.99 Male, $73.01 Female
  • Tickets – men spend 1% less than women; $180.50 Male, $184.25 Female

Now that we’ve established that the average man spends more the average woman, we also looked at the number of men spending vs women.  Overall more men spend than women across these categories too especially on flowers. Almost 2.5 men per woman. But, again, when it comes to movies, women spend more.

  • Florists – 136% more men than women
  • Restaurants – 31% more men than women
  • Travel expenses – 33% more men than women
  • Movies – 11% less men than women
  • Jewellery – 2% less men than women
  • Activities – 2% more men than women
  • Tickets – 4% more men than women


Hypothesis 2: Valentine’s spending is decreasing year over year

This table captures the average amount spent per person across the years during the Valentine’s Day period (1st – 14th Feb).

Valentine’s Day is not dying (at least not if spending is any indication). Spending has stayed steady.  In total, we find is that spending has generally increased slightly over the past 3 years, around 4% increase year on year. 

Average Per Person Spend 2013 2014 2015 2016
Total spend $112.29 $104.61 $109.53 $114.62


Through further research, we attained data highlighting the average spend per person on Valentine’s Day over the years. To be able to identify which categories people are spending more/less on.

From the data, there appears to be some differences in spending habits when comparing weekday Valentine’s Day (2013 and 2014) and weekend Valentine’s Day (2015 and 2016). Would be worth someone investigating this further.


Hypothesis 3: Spending on Valentine’s Day is different on weekends or weekdays

We thought people might spend differently based on whether Valentine’s Day fell on the weekend or weekday. So we compared weekday (2013 and 2014) and weekend (2015 and 2016).

And, indeed, when we look at spending across merchant categories, we see that spend at florists is much higher on weekdays (possibly due to delivery costs? – more research required).

per person spend weekdays weekends
Florists $73.38 $64.44
Restaurants $88.21 $85.81
Travel $32.53 $29.52
Movies $33.24 $32.35


Otherwise, regardless of whether Valentine’s Day is on a weekday or a weekend, people spend roughly the same amount on movies, travel and restaurants. While average spending is consistent, what interested us was the number of people spending on each type of merchant.

The following chart shows the % of the sample (number of people) that purchased at the merchant types on the day of the 14th across the spending categories. We can see that there is 2-times more people purchasing flowers if Valentine’s day falls on the weekday rather than the weekend. Travel and Movies spending is also more popular on the weekends.

% of total people weekdays weekends
Florists 26.35% 14.86%
Restaurants 53.20% 53.61%
Travel 9.52% 16.86%
Movies 9.73% 15.72%


We then looked at this picture for spending from the 1st to the 14th (ie prior to Valentine’s day). Here we took a closer look at Jewellery, Activities and Ticketing services. We can see that where Valentine’s day falls on a weekend, the average jewellery purchase is 34% more. While others stayed steady. So does this mean Jewellers will do better if Valentine’s Day falls on the weekend?

per person spend weekdays weekends
Jewellery $176.94 $237.19
Activities $109.71 $107.32
Tickets $188.64 $179.03


In fact, when we look at the % of sample of people who purchase before the 14th across the Jewellery, Activities and Tickets categories. We see that when a Valentine’s Day falls on a weekday, more people will purchase jewellery in the weeks leading up.

% of total people weekdays weekends
Jewellery 46.11% 40.22%
Activities 10.45% 11.88%
Tickets 46.23% 47.43%



Pocketbook Personal Spending Takeaways.

The above findings should give you a leg up when it comes to how you spend your money on your Valentine.  And here are three additional key takeaways:

  1. You’ll be twice as likely to buy flowers this year.  The last two years saw a marked decline in flower purchases (a more than 50% drop) on Valentine’s Day.  Our data suggests that this was not because flowers are going out of fashion for Valentine’s Day, but because Valentine’s Day fell on two consecutive weekends.  This likely means that with Valentine’s Day on a Tuesday this year, flower sales will experience a big rebound.  It is worth considering whether the flower industry is aware of this and if so whether there will be more than the usual price markups for flowers to pinch consumers?
  2. You might spend less on Jewellery this year.  Our data clearly showed that while the amount spent on other Valentine’s Day gifts and activities has stayed roughly the same, spending on jewellery has continued to grow.  In fact, it looks like the per capita spend on jewellery has grown by 30% in just four years (from about $180 to $240).  One possibility for this  —though it leaves us scratching our heads— is that people spend more on jewellery when Valentine’s Day falls on a weekend (the reverse of florists) and that this year will see a drop in jewellery spend.  Overall, though, it means that consumers probably need to watch their jewellery spend and what jewellery retailers might be doing price-wise.
  3. Don’t feel bad if you don’t spend thousands on your loved one. Our data shows that most people spend between $60 to $100 – price of a cheap dinner plus some well-priced flowers. Love may not cost as much as you think!

Happy Valentine’s to you and your loved one.

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