NEW YORK (Reuters) - Is it really the thought that counts? Americans will find out this Valentine's Day.
U.S. shoppers will spend 17 percent less, on average, on their sweethearts during the Feb 14 lover's holiday this year, according to a survey by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation. That comes to about $103 per gift-giver down from $123 last year.
"Valentine's Day this year will be more about small tokens of affection rather than extravagant purchases," Phil Rist, executive vice president at BIGresearch, said.
Some people will do away with gifts altogether and arrange "quality time" with their heart's desire at home instead, while others will set strict budgets for what they are willing to buy, he said.
But the most popular traditions won't die too fast. Nearly half of those surveyed said they would go to a restaurant on Valentine's Day and more than one-third said they plan to buy flowers. About 58 percent said they would send greeting cards, up from 56.8 percent last year.
Total U.S. spending on spouses, children, friends, classmates, co-workers and pets is expected to reach $14.7 billion for the holiday. The survey polled 8,850 consumers in early January about their Valentine's Day spending plans.
Reporting by Martinne Geller, editing by Leslie Gevirtz