Valentine’s Day: one in 10 to participate purely for “special offers”

Fewer Brits are marking Valentine’s Day this year, with only just over half of us saying we’ll join in – down from seven in 10 in previous years. A third of us are still planning on buying a gift, however, with Amazon being the top choice for most of us (62%), according to a new study from market researchers, Savanta.

Aside from Amazon, the figures suggest that bricks and mortar retailers are set to profit most from Valentine’s Day spending, with online shops that aren’t Amazon lagging behind as the fifth most popular choice (31%), behind supermarkets (54%), department stores (46%) and speciality shops such as clothes or book shops (38%).

Interestingly, the survey also reveals a reluctance for people to part with their cash this year, with only 10% of consumers putting Valentine’s Day as the top day to spend. This is compared to Christmas (54%) and birthdays (34%) and anniversaries. That’s perhaps why one in ten of us will opt for the corner shop or a discount store for our Valentine’s gift, and 7% will adhere to the cliché of buying a present from a garage.

Just over half of us will give a Valentine’s card on the day – the most popular item to exchange – and the top three gift choices are chocolates (48%), flowers (30%) and jewellery (22%). Somewhat unconventionally, two in 10 will opt for a gift card and one in ten will give their valentine money directly.

The study also reveals a mismatch between presents that are being planned, and those that people wish to receive. The three least wanted gifts this year are sex toys (which 40% wouldn’t want to receive), lingerie (25%) and alcohol (21%). But two in ten of us are planning on purchasing alcohol for our better halves, 14% sex toys and 13%, lingerie.

Most (43%) plan to spend between £10 and £49 on the day, almost a quarter will spend £50 – £99 whilst just under one in 10 will spend less than £10. One in twenty are planning to blow the budget by spending over £200.

The high street may not get a boost from Valentine’s celebrations on the day itself, however, as although half of those celebrating will go out for dinner (45%), more people will choose to spend the evening at home (30%) than will head out for a romantic drink (26%) or go to the cinema (15%). One in ten, however, plan to treat themselves to a spa day.

Half of people believe that Valentine’s Day is simply not worth worrying about. Those that say they won’t join in give reasons such as:

  • It’s too commercial (14%)
  • Prefer to do something with their partner on a different day (9%)
  • It’s meaningless (6%)
  • It’s too expensive (3%)

A far cry from the most romantic celebration of the year, one in 10 people say they’ll only get involved to take advantage of the special offers, whilst a quarter of us will use it as an excuse to treat ourselves to a gift. Two in 10 also revealed they’ve bought presents for more than one valentine in the past.

Nine in 10 will use the words “I love you” on the day: half will write it in a card while one in seven prefer to text or WhatsApp it. A handwritten love letter lags behind a Facebook or Snapchat message, with only 13% of us preparing to put pen to paper to express our feelings.

“Fundamentally, Valentine’s Day is about communication. Today we communicate with each other far more frequently than we ever have, and more openly,” comments Julian Dailly, senior vice president at Savanta.

“Whether it’s a quick “love you” text on the train home or a string of affectionately ambiguous emojis exchanged between lovers in the same room, we’re now more open about our feelings and see less point in storing up vaults of affection that need special days to be unlocked.

Of course, the sentiment behind Valentine’s Day remains timeless: the supremacy of love and intimacy. But our data suggests the traditional Valentine’s Day rituals appear increasingly outdated in today’s world of constant open communication.”

The research was undertaken in January 2020 with a sample of 1,001 people in the UK, aged 16 – 65. Savanta is part of the Next15 Group.