Valentine's Day at home

Brits set to spend £787 million on ‘virtual’ Valentine’s Day

  • Love in lockdown: six in 10 couples who live apart are still planning to celebrate, with one in 10 opting for a ‘virtual’ date
  • Men are set to be the biggest spenders, forking out 57 per cent more on their loved ones than women
  • Top activities for those marking February 14th include an ‘at home’ date night, ordering a takeaway, and going on a romantic walk
  • Some of the most bizarre ‘romantic’ purchases Brits have received as a token of their affection include a cement mixer, a salamander and ‘joke underwear’

Romantic Brits are planning to spend an average of £36* each on their family, friends and loved ones this Valentine’s Day, in a bid to keep the romance alive despite national lockdown restrictions.  

New research from Barclaycard**, which sees nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, reveals seven in 10 Brits living with a partner (70 per cent) and six in 10 (62 per cent) in a relationship, but living separately, intend to mark the occasion with their other half.

While a candlelit restaurant meal may seem a distant memory, more than a quarter (26 per cent) of those in a relationship are planning an ‘at home’ date night, with other popular activities including ordering a takeaway (17 per cent), dining in with a supermarket meal (8 per cent), and a romantic walk (8 per cent). While ‘Virtual’ dates are on the menu for the 10 per cent of couples who aren’t able to be together. 

The lockdown restrictions are prompting many to make the most of the day of love, with 13 per cent saying they will be making more of an effort this Valentine’s Day than in previous years.

Men are set to be the biggest spenders, with those celebrating forking out 57 per cent more on their loved ones than women (£44 vs £28) on average. However, it’s the younger generation (18-34 year-olds) who are set to spend the most overall (£45), with those aged over-55 intending to spend less at £30, perhaps opting to show their affection in other ways.

Valentine’s Day purchases – the weird and the wonderful

In a clear sign of the times, the most popular purchase this Valentine’s Day is food for a special dinner at home (61 per cent), followed by more traditional gifts of chocolates (38 per cent) and alcohol, such as champagne (37 per cent). Over half of those questioned (51 per cent) said they would be purchasing a card, at the very least, to mark the occasion.

Of those celebrating the day, many are also treating themselves with something to look forward to, with one in six (16 per cent) purchasing a gift to enjoy together with their partner when permitted. One in 10 (10 per cent) also say they are planning a holiday for their other half when travel restrictions are lifted.

While traditional items for Valentine’s Day reign supreme, some are choosing to show their affection with more novel gifts. The most bizarre items received include a cement mixer, a salamander, a tin of soup, ‘joke underwear’ and even a trailer of manure.  


Most popular Valentine’s Day purchases


Food for dinner at home










Luxury food items, such as oysters


Pampering items, such as massage oil


Perfume/ Aftershave


Lingerie / Underwear


A trip/holiday for when travel restrictions ease


Retailers are also feeling the love

It’s not just consumers planning for a virtual Valentine’s Day – two fifths (41 per cent) of retailers are predicting an uplift in sales, with this anticipated boost giving almost four in 10 businesses (37 per cent) a reason to feel optimistic about their future.

With this year being like no other, and many having to celebrate with loved ones virtually, over half (52 per cent) are offering specific ‘Virtual Valentine’s’ products, including a broader range of gifts (24 per cent), vouchers which can be redeemed at a later date (20 per cent), and chocolates to be delivered to the recipients’ door (15 per cent).

Kirsty Morris, Managing Director at Barclaycard Payments said: “Brits are determined to make the most of this Valentine’s Day, bringing a little joy and celebration to the occasion at home, at a time when the nation needs it most. Whether it’s sending flowers, planning a virtual date night or exchanging gifts, Brits are proving that while many things have been cancelled this year, love is not one of them.

“While some gifting traditions stand the test of time, the way we’re purchasing these items has changed. With a click of a button enabling deliveries at loved one’s doors, the gesture of Valentine’s gift giving has become more seamless, with a significant rise in retailers going online for the first time or expanding their offering to include new services for customers. Hopefully, this hotly anticipated annual event will provide a much-needed boost to both consumers’ moods and retailers’ bottom lines.” 

Charlotte Langley, Brand & Communications Director at Bloom & Wild, said: "As an online brand and the inventor of letterbox flowers, Bloom & Wild has rooted itself in keeping loved ones – near and far – connected through thoughtful gifts. This year we have focused on making our range more thoughtful than ever. Based on the insight that 79 per cent would prefer a unique and thoughtful gift over something traditional like red roses, we won’t be selling them at all this year. Instead, our unique bouquets are all about saying ‘I know you’ and showing how wildly you care."

Elizabeth Galton, Marketing Director at Ernest Jones said: “The impact of the pandemic restrictions has certainly challenged us to think differently about this Valentine’s Day. Despite the shift in focus from store to online, we’ve kept the shopping experience alive for our customers. We’ve seen significant adoption of our personalised virtual ‘Talk to an Expert’ appointments and Live Chat service, and these are just some of the ways we have adapted our business.

“Our store colleagues have worked hard to guide clients through virtual purchases – enhancing the experience by providing all the advice and counsel they would normally receive in-store. We’re pleased our virtual appointments and virtual try on service for engagement rings have been so popular with customers. As a result of these initiatives, we have seen an increase in branded and fine diamonds jewellery sales, traditionally popular time at this time of year.”

Notes to editors

*42 per cent of Brits said they are spending this Valentine’s Day. On average Brits will spend £35.78. 42 per cent of the UK adult population (21,993,011) x (£35.78) = £786,934,620 (£787 million).

**Consumer research in this press release was carried out between 26th and 29th January 2021 by Opinium Research on behalf of Barclaycard. There were 2,007 respondents, providing a representative sample of UK consumers by age, gender, region, and income group.

Merchant research in this press release was carried out between 26th January and 2nd February 2021 by Opinium Research on behalf of Barclaycard. There were 251 Senior decision makers in B2C Hospitality or retail with an online presence.

For more information, please contact Polly Ewell at or on +44 (0)7882 088493

About Barclaycard

Barclaycard, part of Barclays Bank PLC, is a leading global payment business that helps consumers, retailers and businesses to make and take payments flexibly, and to access short-term credit. In the UK we process nearly £1 in every £3 spent using credit and debit cards, and in 2019 we processed over £272bn in transactions globally. We also partner with a wide range of organisations across the globe to offer their customers or members payment options and credit.

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