No Love Lost this Valentine’s Day, Just Fewer Costs

8 in 10 Couples to Celebrate February 14th
but Average Spend Down 28%

Americans Expecting to Spend $212 this Year Compared to $296 in 2015

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As Valentine’s Day approaches, the majority of couples (81%) are making
plans to celebrate this year, slightly up from 2015 (78%). Americans,
whether attached or not, expect to spend an average of $212 on the
holiday, down from $296 in 2015 and closer to 2014’s expected spend

The lower average spend per person correlates with a significant
decrease in anticipated gift spending ($72 vs. $115 in 2015) and cost of
dining out ($70 vs. $103 in 2015), the two most popular ways to
celebrate Valentine’s Day (51% vs. 53% in 2015 and 48% vs. 48% in 2015,

Interestingly, plans for a romantic meal at home, the third most popular
way to celebrate the holiday, are up (26% vs. 24% in 2015), but expected
spend on this activity is also down ($42 vs. $50 in 2015).

the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker

“With Americans focused on increasing
their savings goals
this year, they expect to spend less for
Valentine’s Day,” said Jed Scala, Senior Vice President, Consumer
Lending at American Express. “However, consumers still plan to show
their love and affection through alternative yet equally sentimental

Heart Day Hype & Love with a Swipe

Perhaps contributing to the lower overall spend is how people perceive
Valentine’s Day. For example, 35% of couples view it as more of a fun
tradition rather than a monumental, or “major,” occasion (vs. 33% in
2015), and only 28% of couples feel that it’s an important time to
celebrate relationships – down 30% from last year (vs. 40% in 2015).

Although the Valentine’s hype might be down, romantic connections of a
different type are going strong. According to couples, married or not,
22% say they’ve met their significant other online or on a mobile dating
app. Not surprisingly, this type of love connection is more prevalent
among Millennials. One in three (33%) Millennials claim to have met
their partner this way (vs. 28% of Gen X and 11% of Baby Boomers).

Proposals “Ring” True for 8% of Americans

Whether meeting online or in person, those expecting or planning a
marriage proposal on Valentine’s Day have dropped from 12% in 2015 to 8%
in 2016. As couples shift away from holiday-centric proposals, they are
finding alternative ways of popping the question, such as on a couple’s
getaway (22%), by setting up a romantic experience at home (16%) or with
a special meal (7%).

Also shifting is the age-old tradition of proposing with a diamond ring.
The majority of unmarried couples (54%) find a non-diamond ring to be
acceptable. Specifically, one-third of unmarried couples find gemstone
rings acceptable for engagements, followed closely by the couple’s
birthstones (28%) or a special design, such as a knot or a heart (28%).

Though they may agree on the stone, unmarried (but attached) men and
women don’t seem to agree on how much it should cost– women find $2,731
on average to be an appropriate amount to spend, while men find $1,991
to be appropriate.

Investing in Love Yields High Returns

Although overall spending on Valentine’s Day is down, 76% of couples
still plan to spend money on activities as a long-term “investment” in
their relationship. Top ways to “invest” in a significant other include:

  • Surprising with unexpected gifts (42%)
  • Regular date nights (39%)
  • Romantic getaways (26%)
  • Unplugging from technology (23%)

Communication from the outset of a relationship pays off too. According
to now-married couples, partners are starting to discuss finances at
early stages of their relationship. More than one-third of now-married
couples (38%), for example, began money talks when they were dating,
whereas 19% waited until they were married. These important
conversations have continued throughout the marriage, with 38% citing
numerous finance chats per week. Couples cite $291 as the average amount
necessary to consult their significant on before making a purchase (vs.
$318 in 2015).

Despite money being a common conversation topic in a relationship, bad
financial habits can still be a point of contention. The top spending
behaviors that “drive couples crazy” are frivolous expenditures (24%)
and not seeking sales or using coupons/reward points (9% and 8%,

About the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker

The American
Express Spending & Saving Tracker
 research was completed online
among a random sample of 1,710 adults, including the general U.S.
population, as well as an affluent demographic defined by a minimum
annual household income of $100,000. Interviewing was conducted by
Ebiquity between January 11 and 15, 2016. The results have an overall
margin of error of +/- 2.4; and +/- 2.8 total couples (married or have a
spouse, partner, or significant other) at the 95 percent level of

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 and
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and credit cards
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, Plenti
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About Ebiquity, Plc.

Ebiquity are independent marketing performance specialists. Ebiquity
enables brands across the world to make better informed decisions to
improve their brand and business performance across integrated
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American Express
Jane Di Leo