The cost of love … is £23

The cost of love … is £23

If you love Valentine's Day, you're not alone. Around 40 million Brits (76%) celebrate Valentine's Day, with £1.37 billion spent on cards and gifts. Even though this year's spending is predicted to drop to £926 million (£23 per person), as a nation, we Brits are still the highest Valentine's spenders in Europe, beating the country of love itself - Italy.

 

Cards, flowers and eating out

 

So, what will we be giving to each other this year? Research from Barclays has found that a quarter of us will spend less on Valentine's Day, with one in four swapping a night out for a night in thanks to concerns over rising costs and one in six couples making a 'no present pact'.  

 

Yet, words of love still count. The most popular gift is a Valentine's card, chosen by 41% of those celebrating, followed by chocolates (20%) and flowers (18%). 

 

Over 25 million cards are sent every Valentine's, making a whopping £47m for greetings card retailers in the UK. Approximately 85% of these cards are bought by women.

 

By comparison, data from YouGov shows men spend around £40 on their partner and are seven times more likely than women to opt for a restaurant gift (7% vs 1%) and are eight times more likely (33% vs 4%) to give flowers. 

 

As for the love blooms we choose, the British Florist Association estimates that 250 million stems of flowers are sold at Valentine's. One-third consists of roses, one-third of tulips, and one-third an assortment, with around 75 percent of Valentine's bouquets bought by men.

 

Young love 

 

And it's not just Millennials and older generations celebrating Valentine's Day. Gen Z has overtaken Millennials as the UK's highest-spending age group on February 14th, forking out a whopping £41 on average for their loved ones. 

 

As for what they buy, Gen Z says they are increasing their chocolate purchases for this year's Valentine's Day, with 32% planning to buy sweet stuff and 13% planning to buy significantly more than last year.

 

Gen Z has also broadened the meaning of Valentine's Day, saying that they would rather spend Valentine's Day with friends than with someone they are dating. They are also more likely than Millennials to say Valentine's Day is a good opportunity to tell their friends and family that they love and appreciate them.

 

Self-gifting is on the rise

 

And how about some self-appreciation? Research shows that 25% of us also plan to treat ourselves on February 14th! 

 

Of those who plan to self-gift, we will likely spend an average of £12.50, totalling £155 million across the UK. And it's not just the singletons showing self-love; even those in a relationship say they will likely buy themselves a gift on Valentine's Day.

 

Don't forget your four-legged friends

 

Britain is known as a pet-loving nation, with an estimated 12 million pet dogs and 11 million pet cats in the UK. So it's no surprise that 71% of people see their pets as children, and over half of us (51%) say they love their dog or cat as much as they love their kids.

 

With so much animal love in the air, dogs and pet owners also plan to show their pets some love this Valentine's Day. A survey from Rover.com found 62% will purchase a Valentine's dog gift, and 69% will buy their dog a favourite snack or treat. Of those buying gifts for their pets, one in three intends to spend more on their pet than their partner.

 

What's more, Rover.com notes that almost half (47%) of pet parents plan a full-on Valentine's Day celebration for their canine companions, such as buying new outfits or baking them special desserts.

 

Valentine-haters

 

And if you loathe Valentine's in all its guises, there's always Galentine's Day - a day to celebrate friendships. Inspired by the TV show Parks and Recreation, Galentine is a big deal on social media where the #Galentines hashtag trends both on Instagram and TikTok. 

 

While the day itself has yet to take off in terms of sales, in Finland and Estonia, Friend's Day has been celebrated on February 14th for the last 44 years. Here, people celebrate their friends by exchanging presents and friendship cards.


And if you don't like the idea of celebrating Galentine's Day, you can always wait until November 11th for Singles Day. Started by single students in the 1990s, the idea is to celebrate being single. In 2022, Brits wholeheartedly embraced Single's Day, spending 1.97 billion pounds to celebrate it (significantly higher than Valentine's Day)!

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Written by Anita Naik Published Feb 12, 2024 ● 3 min