visa-tracks-dip-in-valentines-day-spending

A modest dip in average spending for Valentine's Day gifts will put more pressure on American men, according to a survey commissioned by Visa Inc. Whether it's a ripple effect from a better-than-expected Christmas season or simply a return to traditional expectations, women in Visa's survey told researchers that they expected to spend less this year on romantic gifts. Women planned to spend an average of $87 this year, compared to over $100 in 2011.

Men intend to pick up some of that slack, however. Male respondents told Visa's researchers that they anticipated spending $149 on average for Valentine's Day 2012, up 6 percent from last year's $140 budget. The anticipated spending gap between men and women still means an overall 3 percent dip in romantic budgets this month, with an average $117 budget among all 1,000 consumers in Visa's survey.

Valentine's Day spending drop signals value of frugality

Spending less on Valentine's Day doesn't mean Americans have given up on romance, Visa's research team points out. "Those who try to impress by overspending on Valentine's Day may find it has the opposite effect," according to Visa spokesman Jason Alderman. In a statement to reporters, Alderman added, "the key is to know what you can afford and stick to your budget."

Many Americans have poured sweat equity into more memorable, but less expensive gifts. According to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report, arts and crafts stores have experienced heavier traffic in the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day. Classes on card-making and crafting have enabled creative consumers to build their own gifts instead of buying off-the-shelf.

Still, not everyone agrees that Americans plan to get more frugal about romantic gifts this year. The National Retail Federation reported a more optimistic number from its own consumer poll, estimating a $126 average among Americans planning to make Valentine's Day purchases.