Singles looking for special experience on Valentine's Day

Thu Feb 9, 2012 12:26pm EST
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Forget cards, flowers and chocolates, most singles want a special experience rather than a gift for Valentine's Day and although the economy is stagnating, most romantics will spend as much, or more, on the day this year than last.

Nearly half of single and divorced people questioned in a new poll said they view the day as an opportunity to show someone how much they care but a similar number without a significant other don't feel any pressure to celebrate Cupid's big day.

"People are really interested in experience gifts, rather than object gifts," said Gian Gonzaga, a social psychologist with the dating website eHarmony, which conducted the online survey.

"The more you have experiences with someone, the more you are able to build memories and share histories that help to make the relationship more intimate."

Unlike material gifts, he added, an experience, whether it is an outing, a vacation or a special meal, is something unique to the couple, especially if it reflects both people's interests.

But not everyone questioned in the poll of 730 singles is making a fuss about Valentine's Day. About a third of men and women think the holiday is just too commercial.

Data from the National Retail Federation (NRF) supports their concerns.

U.S. consumers are expected to spend about $126 each this year for Valentine's Day, an increase of 8.5 percent from 2011. Total spending for the day, which is one of the biggest gift-giving holidays of the year, is expected to reach $17.6 billion.   Continued...

<p>A hot air balloon flies over San Diego county during Valentine's Day in California February 14, 2007. REUTERS/Mike Blake</p>