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See the results of our 2022 Personal Finance Study!

Only 21% of Americans in a Romantic Relationship Who are Planning to Spend Money for Valentine’s Day said COVID Will Cause Them to Cut Back

By
Andrew Tavin, CFEI
Andrew Tavin is a personal finance writer who covered budgeting with expertise in building credit and saving for OppU. His work has been cited by Wikipedia, Crunchbase, and Hacker News, and he is a Certified Financial Education Instructor through the National Financial Educators Council.
Fact Checked by
Tamara Altman
Dr. Altman has over 25 years of experience in social science, public health, and market research, statistics, evaluation, and reporting. She has held positions with, and consulted for, many government, academic, nonprofit, and corporate organizations, including The Pew Charitable Trusts, the National Park Foundation, Stanford University, UCSF, UC Berkeley, and UCLA.
Read time: 6 min
Updated on February 25, 2022
man watching woman open Valentine's Day gift
Despite the pandemic, many people in romantic relationships are planning to spend as much or more on their partner this year.

The Beatles sang that “money can’t buy me love,” but come Valentine’s Day, it can sometimes feel like love and money go hand in hand.

Back in 2018, we worked with market research provider Pollfish to create a survey surrounding the financial expectations of Valentine’s Day. What we found: More than half (57%) of U.S. adults in romantic relationships would be upset if they didn’t receive a gift for Valentine’s Day.

However, a lot has changed since 2018. Many people have left relationships, others have entered into new relationships, and we have also been dealing with the economic impact of a global pandemic. Can cupid even find a mask properly sized for his little baby face?

With that in mind, we were curious if the pandemic had affected financial sentiments towards Valentine’s Day, so we commissioned The Harris Poll to ask Americans in romantic relationships:

  • How much they expect to spend this Valentine’s Day
  • How much they hope their partner will spend on them for Valentine’s Day
  • Whether COVID will impact their Valentine’s Day spending

Lower expectations

Our survey found a smaller percentage of people in romantic relationships would be disappointed if they didn’t receive a gift on Valentine’s Day compared to our previous study. According to the survey, 37% of people in a romantic relationship would be upset if they did not receive a gift as opposed to the 57% who answered the same in the 2018 Pollfish survey.

The data also showed that men in romantic relationships were less likely to be upset about not receiving a gift than women: more specifically, 69% of men compared to 58% of women would not be upset if they didn’t get a gift from their partner.

Older people in romantic relationships were by far the least likely to care if they received a gift, with 86% of those aged 65 and older saying they wouldn’t be upset if they didn’t receive a V-Day gift compared to 57% of those aged 18-64, and a whopping 94% of men aged 65+ saying they wouldn’t be upset if they didn’t receive one compared to 76% of women in that age range. Still, don’t feel bad if you’re part of the 6% of men who are 65 and older and still want a gift. We think you deserve it.

As far as how much a gift should be, $138 was the average amount those in a romantic relationship hoped their significant other would spend on gifts or other presents like meals and trips. For those who were planning to settle on a simple box of chocolates or a greeting card, you may want to rethink your plans.

Upset infographic

How much are U.S. consumers spending on their valentines?

How much are partners actually planning to spend this year? Well, some partners may exceed expectations, as the average answer across those in a romantic relationship was $251. Those in the 35 to 44 age range skewed the numbers upward quite a bit, as they said they were planning to spend an average of $635, significantly higher than the next largest spending group, 18- to 34-year-olds, who said they were planning to spend an average of $214.

Older millennials and young Generation Xers seem to have Baby Boomers beat when it comes to Valentine’s Day spending, as 55 to 64-year-olds in a romantic relationship said they were planning to spend an average of $92.

When it comes to average spending by region, romantics in the Northeast are planning to outspend other regions of the United States, with an average of $522. That amount of money can buy a lot of romantic New York pizza!

Not even COVID can stop Valentine’s Day

One of our most surprising findings came from asking whether COVID specifically impacted planned spending plans. While 21% of those in romantic relationships who will spend money this Valentine’s Day said they would be spending less money on Valentine’s Day in 2022 compared to previous years due to COVID, nearly as many (17%) said they would spend more in 2022.

While we can’t say for certain the reason behind this trend, to gain some insight, we did speak to a few individuals who have said they plan to spend as much or more due to COVID.

Valentine's Day COVID Spending Statistics

Testimonials from Real Life Romantics

Generally, the people we spoke to who are planning to increase their spending this Valentine’s Day due to COVID are trying to compensate for other moments lost to the pandemic.

“Last year I contracted the virus and couldn’t make my partner feel special,” said Alex Williams, CFO of FindThisBest. “But I am ever so grateful for her nursing me back to health. So I am going to preplan this time and spoil her to the fullest.”

Arvie Narido, writer and researcher for giftrabbit.com, took the pandemic time to save up for a bigger gift for her partner: “I’m the type of person who loves planning and saving ahead of time. I’ve been saving for that $199.99 headset since December, so I know it wouldn’t hurt my budget when February comes around.”

Some also see Valentine’s Day as a time to show their loved ones how much they care since the pressure and stress of the pandemic has made that more difficult to do.

James Crawford, co-founder of DealDrop, said, “Added stress with work, caring for the family, and even carrying out everyday duties has relegated those moments of romanticism to snatched moments at the end of the evening, if it can be fitted in at all.”

He says he plans to go beyond just a card and flowers and spend a little more to show his partner how much he cares, pandemic struggles aside.

To spend or not to spend

A majority (62%) of American adults in a romantic relationship who will spend money this Valentine’s Day said that COVID would not impact their spending at all. It looks like the virus can’t stop love. Or at least buying stuff for the people you love.

 

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