Consumer Corner: Price of love has shoppers looking for a good deal

By MICHELLE GROENKE, United Press International  |  Feb. 9, 2014 at 5:01 AM
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True love may be priceless, but U.S. consumers are looking for bargains this Valentine's Day, the National Retail Federation says.

The NRF is suggesting retailers take heed of the trends seen in November and December, which saw shoppers seeking out the best deals.

A survey conducted for the NRF by Prosper Insights and Analytics found fewer people are planning to celebrate Valentine's Day this year but those who do will be spending a little bit more than they did in 2013.

Fifty-four percent of Americans said they'll celebrate Valentine's Day this year, compared to 60 percent in 2013.

The average person plans to spend $133.91 on candy, cards, gifts, dinner and more, up slightly from $130.97 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $17.3 billion.

"Valentine's Day will continue to be a popular gift-giving event, even when consumers are frugal with their budgets. This is the one day of the year when millions find a way to show their loved ones they care," NRF President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay said in a release.

"Consumers can expect Cupid's holiday to resemble the promotional holiday season we saw just a few months ago, as retailers recognize that their customers are still looking for the biggest bang for their buck."

Greeting cards are, not surprisingly, the most frequently given gift on Valentine's Day, with 51 percent of Americans saying they plan to show their love with a Valentine. Hallmark, which first offered Valentine's Day cards in 1913, says approximately 142 million Valentine's Day cards are exchanged industry-wide, not including prepackaged kids' valentines for the classroom; making it the second-largest holiday for giving greeting cards.

The NRF survey found candy to be a close second, with nearly 49 percent of people planning to buy sweets for their sweeties. Thirty-seven percent said they'll celebrate by giving flowers or an evening out on the town, while 19 percent said they'll show their love with a gift of jewelry. Clothing (16 percent) and gift cards (14 percent) rounded out the list.

Men, on average, plan to spend twice as much on gifts for significant others as women, the survey said.

The survey of 6,417 consumers found that 26 percent plan to shop online, the same as last year.'s Valentine's Day survey took a look at who's not spending money on Valentine's Day this year. According to its figures, 18 percent of people with significant others say they don't plan to spend any money on Valentine's Day. Of those who are planning to spend money, 74 percent of women and 52 percent of men said they intend to spend less than $50.

It is worth noting 70 percent of women said they would prefer a gift over sex while 66 percent of men, when given a choice between the two, would prefer sex over a gift for Valentine's Day. said that may be the reason that more than 3 in 10 (32 percent) of men in relationships said they would prefer to stay at home this year.

For those in a new relationship, the survey of 1,007 adults offered insight into what not to give for Valentine's Day. A majority (60 percent) said no to fitness or weight-loss related items, 32 percent said to wait on the lingerie and 30 percent said expensive jewelry is not appropriate. Hold off on the trip to Antigua too. Twenty-five percent said it was too soon for a vacation.

Couples whose relationships are more established, however, may find the romantic getaway of their dreams in California, home to five of the Top 10 TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice hotels for romance in the United States. Top honors were given to Honor Mansion in Healdsburg, which features 13 rooms and suites on a four acre property in the heart of Sonoma County's wine country.

TripAdvisor said 61 percent of couples planning a getaway this year are heading to the ocean or beach while 39 percent they looking for love in the city.

San Francisco is tops for couples when it comes to romantic U.S. cities, followed by Las Vegas, New York and Miami. Singles looking for love, however, say Las Vegas is the best U.S. city for romance, followed by New York, Miami and Chicago.

San Francisco also got some love from, edging out New Orleans to claim the title of "Most Charming" city in a survey that offered a humorous look at the relationships travelers have with some of the most popular U.S. cities.

Las Vegas, the city named "hardest to break-up with," is also a city whose reputation appears to make some travelers blush. While the gambling and nightlife mecca is a hugely popular destination, it handily beat out New Orleans, Miami and New York as the city that travelers "would most hesitate to bring home" to meet mom and dad, the survey said.

New Orleans, which took second for "Most Charming," joined New York, Philadelphia and Washington as cities that "need the most love,' said.

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