Valentine's Day 2013: Couples to Spend, Knees to Bend

  • Six Million Expect a Feb 14 Engagement
  • Almost a third of Women think Valentine's Day is Overrated
  • Love Sings, Money Talks; More Couples Talk Finances within 6-months of Meeting

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Americans are earmarking an average of $239 per person this year to spend on Valentine's Day gifts, entertainment, dinning out and weekend getaways, up from $196 last year, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. While total spending is expected to increase, the number of people spending any money for Valentine's Day is down to 69%, compared to 76% last year. While fewer wallets will open, more knees will bend: 6 million are planning to make or expecting to receive a proposal on February 14, up from 4 million in 2012.

Visit here for the full report and past Spending & Saving Tracker surveys


"Merchants should see moderate growth in Valentine's Day spending," said David Rabkin, SVP U.S. Consumer Lending Products, American Express. "More couples say they plan to spend, and spend more to make the day special. Topping the list are gifts, dinners out and going to the movies."

Men plan to spend more than women on Valentine's Day, yet women may not be as enamored with Cupid's holiday as one would think. Over 30% of women in relationships think Valentine's Day is overrated, while another 34% say it's a fun holiday, but not a major occasion. Still, 35% of women feel it's an important day to celebrate their relationship with their significant other.

Beyond Valentine's Day, the majority of couples (79%) say they'll invest in their relationship this year, including surprising each other with gifts (46%), scheduling regular date nights (37%) and planning at least one romantic getaway (29%).

Cupid's Arrow Points to More Valentine's Proposals

For some, relationship statuses are sure to change from single to engaged in 2013. Fourteen million Americans are expecting or planning a proposal some time this year (on par with 2012); 6 million are planning to pop or answer the question on Valentine's Day. A romantic vacation or weekend getaway continues to be the most popular proposal setting (26%), followed by dinner at a restaurant (20%). However, more couples are keeping it simple, planning a special at-home meal (15% vs 8% in 2012).

On average, Americans feel $2,410 is an appropriate amount to spend on an engagement ring, on par with last year. However, that average jumps to $5,658 among affluents, up almost $2,000 from 2012. Despite buzz around million-dollar celebrity diamond rings, only 6% of American couples feel it's appropriate to spend over $10,000 on a rock this year.

Consumers <3 Technology to Share Valentine's Greetings

Over half of Americans (56%) said they plan to take a more digital approach to sending romantic messages:

  • 29% say they'll type a romantic text message
  • 29% will post sweet nothings on Facebook
  • 23% will send a sweet or spicy email
  • 20% will mail a loving eCard
  • 7 % of consumers will send their love bird a Valentine in 140 characters or less via Twitter

More than Lip Service, Couples Communicate More about Money

Couples are initiating financial conversations earlier in their relationships. Among unmarried couples, more say they are initiating the money talk within 6 months of meeting (44% vs 29% in 2012). Couples are also discussing money more frequently, 59% say at least once a week, up from 56% in 2012.

Couples might be breaking communication barriers, but that may not lead to harmony at home. Sixty-six percent admit to having financial disagreements and 55% say their spouse has at least one bad financial habit. The top three include: frivolous expenditures (20%), late payments (10%) and hiding money or expenses (6%).

Despite their differences, more couples are running things by each other, with 84% consulting their partner before making a purchase, up from 78% in 2012. They are also being more honest about that spending, with fewer couples misrepresenting the amount of a purchase (64% vs 70% in 2012).

Divvying Financial Duties - A more level playing field?

When it comes to taking care of household finances, men say they most often handle filing income taxes (66%), managing investment accounts (60%), paying property and school taxes (56%) and applying for loans (48%). On the other hand, women report they are responsible for managing checking and/or savings accounts and the household budget (73% each), paying utilities (70%) and making personal credit card payments (63%).

Despite these more traditional responsibilities, the playing field between men and women is beginning to level. Specifically, fewer men say they are handling income taxes this year (66% vs 74% in 2012), but their spouse is taking on this responsibility (27% vs 18% in 2012). Additionally, more couples are taking joint responsibility for making payments on joint credit card accounts (52%).

The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of 1500 adults, including the general U.S. population, an affluent demographic, defined by a minimum annual household income of $100,000. Interviewing was conducted by Echo Research between January 29 and February 2, 2013. These findings have a margin of error of ± 2.5 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence.

About American Express

American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, foursquare.com/americanexpress, linkedin.com/companies/american-express, twitter.com/americanexpress, and youtube.com/americanexpress.

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