'Bella, will you be my valentine?'

February 13, 2019
Maureen McKinney, Associate Editorial Director

This just in, pet lovers. Americans are set to spend a record amount of money this Valentine's Dayand gifts for our furry friends will be plentiful.

(Shutterstock)Fewer Americans plan to celebrate Valentine's Day than in recent years, but there's no question that this manufactured holiday remains big business in the United States. And pets are feeling the love more than ever.

According to results of an annual survey conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics, the total retail spend for Valentine's Day this year is expected to top $20 billion. This represents a 6 percent increase over last year's spending, despite the fact that only 51 percent of Americans intend to celebrate the holiday, down from 55 percent in 2018.

Why the downward trend in Valentine's Day celebrations? Katherine Cullen, NRF's director of industry and consumer insights, named three primary reasons in a recent blog post. “A 2017 flash poll conducted by NRF found the top reasons consumers chose not to celebrate Valentine's Day were that they considered it over-commercialized, didn't have anyone to celebrate with or simply weren't interested anymore,” she said.

But our pets need not fret. Of the 7,384 U.S. adults who participated in the January survey, 20 percent plan to buy a Valentine's Day gift for their pet. In fact, pet spending for the holiday is expected to reach $886 million in 2019. By contrast, when NRF first asked about Valentine's Day pet spending back in 2008, the estimated amount was a mere $367 million.

“The vast majority of Valentine's Day dollars are still spent on significant others, but there's a big increase this year in consumers spreading the love to children, parents, friends and coworkers,” says NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in a release from the organization. “Those who are participating are spending more than ever and that could be the result of the strong economy.”

Survey respondents said they planned to spend an average $161.96 on the holiday overall. That's up 13 percent from last year's $143.56 and tops the previous record of $146.84 set in 2016. Of the $18.40 increase in average spending, $6.94 will be spent on gifts for pets.

Even if you don't plan to go all out for your pet on Valentine's Day, National Love Your Pet Day is right around the corner. But wait, isn't that every day?