Love lockdown: How will Valentine’s Day spending shift under COVID-19?

Data Insights 1 February 2021
Woman Outside Romantic Mural

Traditionally a day celebrating the love between two partners, a modern Valentine’s Day has been reclaimed to appreciate love in all forms, not just romantic.

Last year, Global Data reported that the weeks surrounding the red-letter day were set to be worth over a billion pounds to the UK economy, a growth of 0.6% from the previous year.

With this shift in focus to self-empowerment and the value of platonic relationships, we wanted to find out how much Brits across the UK are spending on the tradition, and what they’re buying.

But as we know, these aren’t normal times. With hospitality, travel and hotels all closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, lovers and friends will have to rethink their celebrations.

We’ve analysed unique card transaction data, in the weeks leading up to and immediately after the 14th of February in 2020, in cities across the UK. Using this data we’ve predicted if our spending will shift during a lockdown Valentine’s day. We’ve also found out who spent what and where in order to reveal the UK’s romance capitals.

Are diamonds forever?

Though this year will see us in a love lockdown, Brits can still choose to treat themselves, or someone special in the name of love. In 2020 although jewellers were the highest ticket spend, dry cleaners (+25%) and florists (+24%) saw the biggest increases in spending the week prior to the big day, when compared to the spend throughout the rest of the year.

Dining in restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars also make the top ten with the UK spending an average of £34 on drinks and dinner. With this year’s lockdown keeping the nation at home, it’s looking likely that home-cooked meals and takeaways will be the stand-in for gourmet celebrations this year.

 

At the moment, self-care is taking centre stage, especially after the events of the past year.  Health and beauty spas placed 5th on our UK Valentine’s Day spend ranking with independent and small businesses reporting an average £39 spend on treatments and relaxation. We’re expecting to see this move to at-home spas this year as the public try to emulate their favourite self-care routines.

Valentine's Day by Sector

Love Me Do! Liverpudlians spend the most on gifting flowers

A single rose or bunch of thoughtful blooms, the lovers of Liverpool go all out when it comes to gifting flowers. Indie florists in the Beatles’ hometown reported an average spend of £57. Dartford in Kent placed second forking out £47, while Blackburn placed third with £38 spent on flowers on average. 

With the UK still in lockdown this year we’re expecting to see an increase in letterbox flowers, home spa hacks and takeaways as Valentine’s celebrations turn to a night in, or become virtual.

Valentine's Day by City

*Average spend per customer

Portsmouth spends the most… in precedented times

Based on average spend from businesses visited by Valentine’s Day celebrators last year, the seaside city of Portsmouth claimed the title of Britain’s biggest spender. Customers of Pompey’s small and boutique businesses racked up an average spend of £379 on florists, cards, dinners out and new clothes around the special day, with people keen to express love through their wallets.

Exeter placed second with an average spend of £309. And at number three, Dorchester proved romance is alive and well all over the UK, with an average spend of £304. 

Valentine's Data top spenders

Table and UK figures based on the combined average spend per visit on industries (cafes & restaurants, cards & stationery, dry cleaners, florists, gifts, hairdressers, spas, hotels, jewellers, men & women’s clothing, taxis, pubs and shoe stores) in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day in 2020.

Lockdown Valentine’s Day spend set to more than halve

With no pubs, restaurants or non-essential stores open, lockdown poses some limits to what we can do. 

This means spend is likely to shift to butchers, take-aways and post offices as people stay home to celebrate or send their love through the mail.

Last year’s data shows Brits only spent up to £142 on amenities and activities still accessible during this year’s lockdown. This means Brits could save £487, up to 77%, in a pandemic Valentine’s celebration. 

Based on 2020 data and the limited amenities available this year, we’ve predicted the towns and cities likely to be 2021’s biggest spenders.

Glasgow tops our tally of the cities likely to spend the most in the run-up to the 14th of February, with residents spending an average of £103. Blackburn is a close second with £102 and Birmingham placed third in our predictions based on last year’s spend of £91 in the run-up to Valentine’s.

Valentine's Day 2021 Predicted Top Spenders

Figures based on the combined average spend per visit on industries (beer & wine retailers, butchers, gifts & cards, groceries, off licenses, post offices and take-aways) in the Valentine’s Day week in 2020.

Valentine’s Day lockdown savers

Based on 2020 data of who spent the least on the essential stores and services that will be available this Valentine’s day, Durham is most likely to hold on to their pennies with residents spending an average of just £11 each last year on things still available in a lockdown.

Valentine's Day Biggest Savers Predictions

Figures based on the combined average spend per visit on industries (beer & wine retailers, butchers, gifts & cards, groceries, off licenses, post offices and take-aways) in the Valentine’s Day week in 2020.

 

Methodology

  • Valentine’s spend unique data was collated by analysing anonymised transactions from Paymentsense card machines across the UK, to find which industries had the highest average spend per transaction. 
  • We analysed which cities spent the most in certain industries last year to find the highest spending residents by city.
  • Using 2020 data we made predictions on where this year’s consumer trends across different regions and industries.
  • The data referenced is for the week period of Valentine’s day: 08/02/2020-15/02/2020.

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