The nation's largest retail trade group estimated that consumers are going to collectively dole out nearly $24 billion on Valentine's Day this year, marking the second-highest year on record.
This year's projection is an increase from the $21.8 billion consumers spent in 2021, according to an annual survey by National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. However, this year's projection falls just short of the $24.7 billion spent in 2020.
The NRF's data comes just after holiday spending in 2021 grew 14.1% over the prior year to a record $886.7 billion.
"Following the historic level of consumer spending over the winter holidays, it appears that the trend will continue into 2022," NRF CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.
More than half of U.S. consumers – 53% – are planning to celebrate Valentine's Day this year, according to the NRF. Of those celebrating, 76% indicated how important the holiday is "given the current state of the pandemic."
Each individual shopper is projected to spend an average of $175.41 on gifts, an increase from $164.76 in 2021, despite inflation hitting a nearly 40-year high.
While candy, greeting cards and flowers remain the most popular gifts, the demand for gifting experiences, such as concert or sporting event tickets, "returned to pre-pandemic levels," according to the survey.
Just over 40% of consumers would "love to receive a gift of experience," up from 36% in 2021, according to the NRF.
Meanwhile, about 31% of consumers are already planning to gift an "evening out" this year, up from 24% in 2021.
"While traditional Valentine’s Day gifts like candy and flowers seem to never go out of style, gift givers and recipients alike are more comfortable heading out for a special meal or participating in a new experience than they were a year ago," Phil Rist, Prosper Insights executive vice president of strategy, said.
Rist said "this is especially true among younger age groups."