Looks like couples are tightening their Valentine's Day belts again this year, with the average American spending just $63.34 on gifts for their significant other or spouse, compared to $67.22 last year.
That's from the latest National Retail Federation/BIGResearch poll, which also reports that total spending for V-Day -- at $103 per person -- is more or less in line with last year's total of about $14.1 billion. Last year's drop was the doozy, when consumers said they planned to spend an average of $102.50, down from $122.98 per person the previous year.
While they are cutting back on sweethearts and family members, shoppers are actually increasing the budget for other Valentines, with consumers planning to spend $5.37 on friends (up from $4.74 last year), $4.29 on classmates and teachers (up from $3.59 last year), and $3.27 on pets (up from $2.17 last year.)
As is typical, men say they will spend about twice as much as women: $135.35 versus $72.28. And as was true last year, when consumers were still reeling from the recession, personal, creative or practical gifts are getting more attention. Many of the gifts are as predictable as ever, including greeting cards (which 54.9% plan to purchase), candy (47.2%), flowers (35.6%) and jewelry (15.5%). But others are losing favor: Only 35.6% plan an evening out, for example, compared with 47% last year.
Stores on all ends of the price spectrum, naturally, are knocking themselves out for any share of Valentine's Day spending they can get. Target's "Love Big" campaign, which includes the ability to record a SuperLoveSender video card, boasts a gift-giving guide sorted by price and gender.
Macy's just launched a "Sweetest Tweets" contest, and on the 14th, will award such prizes as diamond pendants and rings to the most "swoon-worthy tweets." And while the "Be My Tiffany Valentine -- Love at First Sight" collection includes a few items that fit within the NRF guidelines, it's also making a splash with a series of Valentine's Day Tiffany Celebration rings -- platinum bands studded with hand-set pink sapphires and diamonds, for around $7,700.
An additional marketing vehicle this year is the Feb. 12 release date for "Valentine's Day." The star-studded date movie, directed by Garry ("Pretty Woman") Marshall, has partnered with such love-friendly brands as 1-800 Flowers, Scope Outlast, Nivea and Ford.
The NRF poll included about 9,600 adults.