Love & Money: How Romance Impacts Our Spending

Intrum reveals the impact of Valentine’s Day on consumer spending and debt.

Valentine’s Day is almost here.

Love is in the air, but so is the pressure to splash out on romance. Consumer finances are already under pressure from the cost of living crisis and high rates of inflation, but many feel the need to spend lavishly on their partner - even if it means going into debt to do so. 

Intrum’s research sheds light on the intricate relationship between love and money. We’re helping our customers consider the impact relationship expectations can have on their spending, as well as giving businesses a better understanding of consumer behaviour at this time of year.

Love & Money: How romance impacts our spending

Valentine’s Day spending levels

Valentine’s Day 2023 was deeply impacted by the cost of living crisis, according to Mintel’s Valentine’s Day Market Report

With UK inflation over 10% in February 2023, it’s no surprise that spending fell. There was a 19% decreaseyear-on-year, with 50% of buyers spending less on Valentine’s gifts. 

According to Barclay’s Valentine’s Day Spending Report, 16% of UK couples agreed to limit their Valentine’s spending in 2023. While 15% agreed not to buy each other presents in favour of focusing on experiences, 31% chose lower-cost nights out and 26% opted to spend the night in. 

The disposable nature of traditional Valentine’s gifts is also becoming a concern for consumers. According to Mintel, 63% of us are happier to purchase Valentine’s gifts that will last longer.

The pressures of gift-giving

Of course, Valentine’s Day isn’t an essential holiday, but pressure remains for couples to buy each other presents, even if it causes them financial difficulty. In a survey conducted by Creditfix, 55% of British people said that they had used credit cards to pay for dates. 

While many couples feel comfortable agreeing to cut back, the pressure to make a good first impression leaves some single people looking for love under greater financial stress. 

Our research at Intrum revealed that 24% of British and Irish survey respondents consider buying gifts for their partner to be one of the common reasons for going into credit card debt. One in five worry that their partners will leave them if they do not meet their gift-giving expectations. 

However, this pressure does depend on age, gender and location, with some feeling more heat than others when it comes to money and love.

Some affected more than others

Millennials feel the pressure more acutely than older generations, with 21% stating that gift-related spending pushes them into credit card debt, compared to just 6% of Boomers. 

Men are also slightly more likely to feel the pressure, with 18% listing gifts as the main reason they go into credit card debt, compared to 12% of women. Furthermore, men are 6% more likely to worry that their partner will leave them if they fail to provide romantic gifts. 

Where you are in Europe may impact how likely you are to risk going into debt over romantic treats. According to The European, in Portugal 48% of survey respondents listed romantic dates as among the first costs to cut back when under financial strain, in contrast to just 13% of Estonians.

“In some countries, as many as one in four say they would choose debt before coming home empty handed to their spouse. It’s unfortunate that pressure to spend money on romance is so high for some, as we see first-hand the effects problem debt can have on relationships and mental health,” says Anna Fall, Intrum’s Chief Brand & Communications Officer. “We believe talking openly about debt and financial stress with your partner is the best way to tackle the problem and ensure pressures don’t mount.”

Communication can help you build a healthy financial partnership and avoid overspending this Valentine’s Day. It also informs our approach at Intrum. We help people who have fallen into debt understand their options so we can set up a payment plan that works for them, getting them back on track.