Businesses normally look forward to 14 February as a much-needed boost after the highs and lows of the Christmas period, but new statistics show Brits may be cutting back on their romantic spending as the pressure on their wallets continues to pinch.
Some surprising statistics appeared last week from Travelodge, which suggested Brits may be spending almost £1 billion on Valentine's Day gifts and experiences.
Men traditionally spend more than women, and 2013 is no exception – men are predicted to spend £622 million collectively, compared to the £354m being spent by women.
Elsewhere, Rakuten's Play.com estimated the average spend by a Brit on V-Day presents and celebrations is £119 – the global average. Germany spends the least, coughing up just £59 per person – and 31% of Germans have actually confessed to having forgotten Valentine's Day entirely!
But several retail experts have revealed to the Huffington Post UK that we're spending less than in previous years, and are choosing value deals over extravagant purchases.
Kantar World Panel told HuffPost UK that the amount of presents we're buying and the value of them dropped between 2011 and 2012 – In 2011 we bought 10.7m gifts at a value of £271.1m, but in 2012 we bought just 10.3m gifts at a value of £265.1m.
Zak Edwards, owner at online retailer Prezzybox confirmed the trend was looking to continue this year – although visits to his site have increased by 59% compared to last February, the amount people are spending has fallen from £28.99 in 2012 to £26.89 this year.
Here, we highlight some of the sectors expecting to do well out of Valentine's Day, and why we're choosing bargains over blowouts this February.
Valentine's Day Cards
With the collapse of Clinton's Cards into administration in 2012 (although we should say 4,500 jobs were saved with the sale of 397 shops to Lakeshore), and WH Smith's declining to offer any sales figures, trying to find out whether we still buy Valentine's Day cards has not been easy.
There are signs that we're scrimping on the cost of sending a card however - statistics from O2 show more of us are scrimping on buying cards and choosing to send texts instead.
Last year, more than 11 million more texts were sent on Valentine's Day, compared to the average number of texts sent on any other day in February – hitting a total of 229,761,058 texts.
"The fact that a text is instant delivery, and far cheaper than the cost of a card and a stamp, has a big effect on how people now express their love on Valentine's Day," said Nick Thomas of O2.
"Who wants to risk ruining their relationship with that special someone? With more snow forecast who knows where a card may end up."
This attitude is not going down well with everyone though – online beauty retailer Escentual.com quizzed more than 500 women in the run up to Valentine's Day, and 85% said a hand-written letter or card was their preferred way to receive a Valentine's message.
But romantics can take heart from Asda, which predicts two-thirds of us will buy a Valentine's Day card this year, up from Mintel's 2010 figures of 25%.
Although we're spending less on gifts, there are some areas of retail which still hope to do well.
Perfume and aftershave are popular gifts at this time of year, and according to Asda, Edinburgh-based lovers buy more than anyone else.
Lingerie is another key retail trend which always gets a boost in February; in 2012, lingerie saw a 27% year-on-year increase in sales in the run up to Valentine's Day in the UK, according to Rakuten's Play.com.
Would lingerie be your favoured Valentine's Day present?
But again, it's the supermarkets taking advantage; Asda expects Manchester's men to buy more underwear than men anywhere else in the UK.
Personalised gifts are on the rise in 2013, according to Prezzybox's Edwards.
"Research suggests that a personalised product portrays a more sentimental purchase and demonstrates more value to the recipient," he said, adding that four personalised products sit in our top 10 best sellers for February.
These include personalised romantic books, a postcode jigsaw of where the couple first met, and a personalised teddy bear in a tin.
Romantic trips abroad are seemingly off the menu for many Brits this year, and staycations have become all the rage.
Nick Henderson, terminal operations worker at Gatwick Airport, told the Huffington Post UK that while European mini breaks were still popular, Edinburgh and Belfast were both in the top 10 for Valentine's Day destinations.
"As usual, European mini break destinations are proving popular but it's interesting to see less traditional cities, like Belfast, hitting the spot for Valentine's breaks this year," he said.
"It could be that people are still keen to indulge in trips even during tough financial times, but are perhaps choosing to look closer to home than abroad."
That assumption is supported by LastMinute.com which found Brits are planning to spend less on trips with their loved ones than they did in 2012 – with the average Brit willing to part with just £131 on a Valentine's break for two.
Interestingly, the Germans, who spend little on gifts, spend more on holidays, parting with £214 on average for a Valentine's break for two.
Brits are also one of the least organised nations when it comes to planning and booking a romantic trip, leaving it until six days before the big day to finalise their plans.
Do you know anyone who's going to Paris for Valentine's Day?
Alan Richmond from the Vincent Hotel in Southport, Merseyside, said: "We are seeing a steady increase in the number of people celebrating Valentine's Day.
"It really is becoming a key date in everyone's calendar and we have seen a steady increase in bookings over the last few years and this year is certainly no exception."
It's not just on the day itself day either; more people are choosing to celebrate across a long weekend. Spa treatments and Champagne afternoon teas are also popular, Richmond said.
"We are also seeing a rise in the number of people who have married here returning for Valentine's Day and anniversaries. These probably account for around 30% of our bookings on Valentine's Day and we expect to see some of our guests popping the question too over Valentines which is always very special."
Romantic night in
Rather than fight for a reservation in a crowded restaurant and put up with saccharine background music and clichéd menus , many are choosing the cash-saving option of a romantic night in.
Retailers are cashing in on this trend – particularly supermarkets, which often offer meal deals with wine or champagne as part of the deal.
Asda said its champagne sales were strongest in Essex this year, while sales of candles, confetti and decorations – such as heart bunting and banners – were also up – particularly in Birmingham.
And those of us who are bothering to venture out for dinner are value-chasing too by looking up discount codes. Savvy restaurants have cottoned on to this trend - in the two weeks preceding Valentine's Day last 2012, more than 150,000 restaurant vouchers were downloaded from VoucherCodes.co.uk alone.
Roses are red, violets are blue...
Duncan Jennings, co-founder of Vouchercodes.co.uk, told the Huffington Post UK: "This represented an increase of more than 300% on 2011 figures, and demonstrates the shift in attitude we've been seeing among the general public when it comes to voucher usage.
"With 2013 traffic levels already up significantly on last year, we're expecting Valentine's Day 2013 to be a bumper year for money savvy consumers."
And we're even scrimping on our babysitters – over 50s car insurance provider RIAS claims £15m will be saved this year by parents who hand their kids over to their parents for the night.
Saying it with flowers
The one area we don’t seem able to scrimp on is flowers. Supermarkets are expecting bumper sales of blooms this Valentine’s Day – Asda's research suggests Yorkshire lads are the most likely to splash out on roses.
Sales of roses and Valentine's Day blooms soaring in stores in Yorkshire (up 36%) – the highest anywhere in the country.
Kantar World Panel's statistics also showed an upward trend for flower buying, between Valentine's Day and 1 March 2011 we bought 2,648,000 flower gifts, but last year we bought 2,745,000m – 97,000 more.
Infographic from Rakuten on global spending trends for Valentine's Day
Suggested For You
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more