For Valentine's Day, Physical Shopping Beats Digital

All the world loves online shopping, but when it comes to matters of the heart, people like to keep it physical, according to a new study from MasterCard’s SpendingPulse. 

Tracking behavior in more than 200 countries, the report analyzes spending from Feb. 11 through Feb. 14 in the last three years, revealing a 22% increase in spending on those three days, with 90% of purchases occurring in person, and only 6% online. Europeans are Cupid’s most digital shoppers, with online spending accounting for 21%. 

MasterCard also reports a shift away from “gifts and grand gestures” to more memory-making and experience-related presents, including a big jump in restaurants and hotel stays. (Restaurants are bigger in the U.S. and Latin America, while hotels have an edge in Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East.)



In the U.S., there has been a big decline in flowers (down 17%) and cards (off 14%.) And spending has increased 28% over the three-year period, with 64% of transactions happening in physical stores.

The International Council of Shopping Centers says its research indicates that 93% of Valentine’s Day shoppers will make purchases in stores this holiday and that 20% will buy gifts through pure online retailers. It estimates 19% will shop online with retailers with a physical presence and in-store pickup, while 16% will shop online via retailers with physical stores that ship to their homes. And 12% plan to use catalogs or phone orders.

Of course, plenty of retailers are targeting those omnichannel appetites with digital campaigns meant to drive sales through stores and the Web. Kay Jewelers’ #sendahint campaign lets women remind men that “Chocolate diamonds are a thing (It’s science!)”, “Roses die” and “Because sparkly,”

That’s all good news for America’s malls, of course, and the International Council of Shopping Centers says its research indicates that 79% of American adults either have spent or will spend money this holiday, spending some $29 billion. On average, they’ll spend almost $192 per person, with men typically spending about $223, compared with $164 for women.

Young lovers are more generous, at about $275, while Baby Boomers spend much less, at around $108. Cards, chocolates, and flowers continue to be the most popular presents, but for many, ISCS says Cupid’s big gifts will be electronic (with per-gift spending averaging about $216), jewelry ($191), and apparel, including lingerie ($49.)

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