U.S. valentines to hold back on spending - survey

Mon Feb 1, 2010 8:38am EST

* Sees couples' V-Day spending on each other down 6 pct

* Men expected to spend twice as much as women

* Consumers to give preference to practical gifts

* Sees total Valentine's Day holiday spending at $14.1 bln

By Shradhha Sharma

BANGALORE, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Love is less in the air for couples this Valentine's day, as many curb spending on each other, and instead open their wallets for family, friends, co-workers and even pets, a survey said on Monday.

As consumers continue to scale back spending, American couples are expected to spend 6 percent less, or an average of $63.34, on each other this year, a survey released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) said.

The survey - which was conducted for the NRF by BIGresearch - to gauge Valentine's day spending for the first time, pegs this year's total holiday spending at $14.1 billion.

"The economy has forced consumers to rethink their gift giving practices," Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch said.

However, duplicating past trends, men are expected to spend nearly twice the amount women do, the survey pointed out, adding that on an average men could shell out $135.35, compared with $72.28 by women.

Personal and practical gifts will resonate with celebrants again this year as more people will look to sweaters, winter accessories and other clothing options, in place of jewelry or an evening out.

Traditional gifts such as greeting cards, candy and flowers would remain popular choices, as always.

NRF's survey was based on interviews of 9,578 consumers from Jan. 5-13, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.

"Personal and unique gifts will speak volumes this Valentine's Day as consumers dig deep into their hearts and not their wallets," Rist said. (Reporting by Shradhha Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Kavita Chandran)

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