Mastercard Love Index: UAE Romantics Prefer Experiences to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

February 17, 2020 | UAE
  • Spend on experiences outpaces traditional gifts
  • E-commerce a preferred way to pay for Valentine’s Day
  • Flower sales bloom for UAE consumers

Romantics in the UAE are choosing to celebrate Valentine’s Day by embracing experiences over traditional gifts, according to Mastercard’s annual Love Index, which analyses spending trends by analyzing credit, debit and prepaid card transactions across the globe. Now in its third year, the Index reveals that the ‘love economy’ is growing five times as fast as the global economy, with Valentine’s Day spend worldwide increasing by 17 per cent between 2017 and 2019.

While overall sentimental spending around Valentine’s Day decreased by 3 per cent in the market in 2019, the celebration of love remains ever-present in the UAE. Consumers are choosing to splurge on romantic getaways, with the majority (44 per cent) of spend allocated to hotels, an 8 per cent growth since 2017, while consumers spent over $24 million on flight bookings and trips away last year, up 13 per cent from 2017.

The study also revealed that UAE consumers are turning to online shopping to spoil their loved ones. The number of e-commerce transactions for Valentine’s Day continues to grow, increasing by 117 per cent over the past 3 years. For in-store transactions, the share of contactless transactions has seen a massive increase of 4,156 per cent since 2017.

“In line with global trends, consumers in the UAE are favoring experiences over traditional gifts for Valentine’s Day, creating more opportunities for shared experiences and memories,” said Girish Nanda, General Manager, UAE & Oman, Mastercard. “As online shopping becomes increasingly pervasive, it is no surprise that consumers in the UAE are embracing the convenience of online purchases to spoil their loved ones. The Mastercard Love Index is a unique look at how buying behavior is evolving over time, and as we make our way into a new decade we expect the trend of investing in time and memories together to continue to grow.”

Consumers in the UAE are well organized when it comes to matters of the heart. The majority of transactions took place earlier than ever before, with the number of last minute shoppers declining. 2019 saw the majority of Valentine’s Day transactions take place on 11 February, compared to 2018 where they took place on 12 February and 2017, when they took place on 13 February, the day before Valentine’s Day.

Finally, when choosing material gifts, UAE consumers are still choosing to celebrate their loved ones with flowers, as spend increased by 60% in 2019. The data also revealed that spend on the traditional Valentine’s Day card is slowing down, dropping by 51% in 2019 from the previous year, while spend on jewelry decreased by 9%.