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“Honey, I shrunk the cash” – A “graphic” Valentine’s story

If anything has changed over the years, it is how the world has found a way to spend more despite fading interest in traditional methods of showing love ...

The Middle East region witnessed a 10 percent rise in spending on Valentine's Day UAE e-commerce transactions on Valentine’s Day gifts increased by 236% since 2016 UAE expenditures on hotels, travel and other "experiences" increase

February 2019 has only 28 days. Ideally, we should have all have more money remaining toward the end of the month … but then again, there’s Valentine’s Day!


There goes the money

Get this – even though only 51 percent of Americans are keen on celebrating Valentine’s Day in some form or the other, they will be shelling out a record $20.7 billion collectively on the occasion. This pegs the average spend of a person at $161.96 – an increase of 13% from 2018, according to the National Retail Federation survey.

Valentine's Day Spending vs Percentage of People Celebrating Valentine's Day (U.S.)


Things aren’t very different in other parts of the world. Sentimental spending is up 49 percent and 33 percent in the UK and the Asia Pacific region respectively. The Middle East region witnessed a 10 percent rise in spending and a 20 percent increase in the volume of transactions since 2016.


Online lure

The variety of choice and the convenience of making even last-minute purchases for loved ones has resulted in rapid growth in online shopping. The number of e-commerce transactions for Valentine’s Day gifts increased by 236% in the UAE between 2016 and 2018.

There is “rapid adoption of digital payment solutions among UAE consumers. In an age where contactless payments and same-day delivery e-commerce purchases have become the norm, our solutions are making it easier than ever to impress loved ones with meaningful Valentine’s surprises,” said Girish Nanda, General Manager, UAE and Oman, Mastercard.

In the UAE, contactless payments also saw huge growth, with the share of transactions increasing by 829 percent in the last two years.  During the same period, the total value of contactless transactions grew by a whopping 1,252 percent margin.


Experience over expense

Expensive gifts such as diamonds are becoming a thing of past, with Gen X, millennials and baby boomers emptying their pockets on experiences, dating apps and “self-love” instead. Those not spending on others are perfectly happy spending on themselves.


Valentine's Day spending survey


Expenditures on jewelry have dropped 28 percent on Valentine’s Day in the last three years, while total spending on hotels rose a whopping 74 percent, the Mastercard survey indicates.

In the UAE, expenditures on experiences spiked with hotel trips and transportation increasing by 20% and 38% respectively between 2016 and 2018.

Chocolates and flowers, however, remain eternal. The total spending on bouquets in the UAE went up 176 percent in 2018, compared to 2016.


Swipe right

Dating apps are picking up, and it’s no surprise. While the U.S. leads in the share of the adult population who are active paying customers, the rest of the world is not far behind. Tinder has witnessed a steady uptick in paying subscribers with 1.25 million subscribers joining the app in a single year.



Online dating powerhouse Match Group grew its revenue by 30 percent last year, pulling in a record total of $1.73 billion over the past twelve months. Tinder accounted for nearly half that total with subscriber revenue from the popular app amounting to $805 million.


Early birds

Consumers in the UAE also plan ahead of time with 29 percent of Valentine’s Day purchases historically happening on February 11.

In Europe, people began shopping for Valentine’s Day at least a week in advance with sales peaking on Feb. 12 and the eve of the occasion.


Daily Traffic and Sales in Europe in the Week Preceding Valentine's Day