In numbers: How the Middle East celebrates Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2016 4:30 pm

MasterCard Love Index shows individuals' spending habits around Valentine's Day.

Special moments, like Valentine’s Day, are best prepared for in person, the MasterCard Love Index shows.

According to the report, while there is an international shift towards digital and online shopping, the majority still prefer to hand-pick a Valentine’s Day gift in person for their loved one.

Since 2013, the index has analysed shoppers’ behaviours in more than 200 countries, exploring credit, debit and prepaid card transactions between February 11 and 14, especially focusing on spending related to Valentine’s Day.

Globally, the amounts spent leading up to Valentine’s Day have increased across all regions by an average of 22 per cent.

Memorable experiences

The Index shows that most people, globally, have been moving away from gifts and other materialistic gestures and are, instead, moving towards experiences.

“Where you live can have a big impact on how you shop or the experiences and memories you look to create,” says Raghu Malhotra, President, Middle East and Africa, MasterCard.

The Middle East region, in general, was found to be “more likely to spend money on jewelry (23 per cent)” than any other region in the world.

In the UAE, jewelry made up 26 per cent of the total spend on gifts, while flowers and cards accounted for less than two per cent of spending, a pattern noticed across all three years of analysis.

Also in the UAE, 88 per cent of MasterCard shoppers made Valentine’s Day purchases the traditional way in 2015, by physically going to a store to pick out a gift, while only six per cent opted for online purchases.

Restaurants had the lion’s share of transactions, at 46 per cent, followed by hotels at 37 per cent. Spending on travel is on the rise in the entire Middle East region, according to the Index, as 43 per cent of transactions are being made on hotels, a rise of 51 per cent year-on-year.

From a global perspective, the Middle East region is the only one recording an increase in Valentine’s Day card purchases, a 107 per cent increase year-on-year.

A global perspective

While, as mentioned earlier, the Middle East is most indulgent in jewelry and travel, the index has provided an overview on how the rest of the world says “I love you”.

In the United States, food was found to be the most important part of Valentine’s Day, as 38 per cent of spending is done on restaurants, a noticeable y-o-y increase of 66 per cent.

In the US, dinner seems to have replaced the traditional card-and-flowers combination, as spending on these items dropped 14 per cent and 17 per cent respectively.

In Latin America, on the other hand, flowers still retain value among loved ones, as spending on these has increased to reach 92 per cent, followed by jewellery at 67 per cent.

However, by percentage, Latin Americans are spending more on restaurants (54 per cent), than any other region. Overall, spending on this special occasion has increased by 25 per cent.

In Europe, Valentine’s Day spending is generally up by 14 per cent, but the region ranked the highest in terms of online Valentine’s Day purchases, as 21 per cent of Valentine’s Day transactions were made online, the highest in the world.

Asia and the Pacific Rim recorded an increased spending on experiences, like hotels (36 per cent) and restaurants (24 per cent), and a decreased spending on items like flowers and cards, which recorded two per cent each.

In Canada, the sheer size of the country was reflected in the fact that most Valentine’s Day spending was on transportation (35 per cent), recording a nine per cent increase y-o-y.

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By AMEinfo Staff

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