Mastercard Index: Love and Pockets Run Deep in South Africa as Valentine’s Day Spend Soars

February 12, 2021 | Johannesburg
  • Sentimental spending up 142 percent over the past 10 years, with people splashing out  on romantic experiences more than traditional gifts like flowers and jewellery
  • Online shopping at an all-time high, up 683 percent since 2011
  • Home-cooked meals, take-ways and movie marathons are expected to be this year’s top romantic experiences

According to the latest Mastercard Love Index, South Africans are splashing out more than ever before over Valentine’s Day – especially on memorable experiences and gifts that can be ordered online.

The Index examines spending habits and trends around Valentine’s Day by analysing Mastercard spending data across the Valentine periods (9 – 15 February in 2011, 2019 and 2020) from over 53 countries around the world.

The amount that South Africans spend over the Valentine’s period has soared by 142 percent over the last decade, with sentimental shoppers purchasing almost 10 times (up 880 percent) the amount of gifts and experiences than they were in 2011.

Online shopping has grown steadily and is at an all-time high – with a 683 percent increase in the number of online transactions in the Valentine’s Day period since 2011. Many will shop online for Valentine’s Day gifts this year, while some will show their love for local, purchasing bouquets and gifts from neighbourhood businesses.

“The Mastercard Love Index has been providing insights into global buying behaviours and spending trends around the most romantic day of the year for nearly a decade. Of course, this year has been unlike any other, but we’re still seeing spending around Valentine’s Day at an all-time high as the world turns to online shops for gifts and at-home experiences,” said Suzanne Morel, Country Manager at Mastercard South Africa.

“It has undoubtedly been a catalyst for the surge in e-commerce activity, and as a result, we have been able to quickly help more people embrace the digital shift by delivering an online shopping experience that is safe, secure and convenient.”

Experiences over things

According to the Index, the trend of gifting ‘experiences’ continues to outpace traditional gifts like jewellery, with hotel bookings up 352 percent and the amount spent up 114 percent in 2020 compared to 2011.

Food continues to be one of the most popular way to people’s hearts. Since 2011, there has been a 1,130 percent increase in the amount of Valentine’s Day transactions in restaurants, with the amount spent increasing by 253 percent in 2020.

While plumping for traditional gifts like flowers saw a 50 percent increase in the amount spent since 2011, spending on jewellery only saw an increase of 17 percent over the same period.

“Our data highlights the move towards the ‘experience economy’ where consumers are choosing to create lasting experiences and happy memories rather than purchasing material gifts. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, we expect that take-aways, home-cooked meals and movie marathons are set to be popular ways couples will bring romantic experiences home this year,” says Morel.

– Ends –

Notes To Editors

Mastercard spending data in more than 53 territories around the globe.

Media Contacts

Birgit Deibele, Mastercard