By Michelle Graff
Washington--The National Retail Federation predicts that Americans’ post-recession frugality will continue through Valentine’s Day, with slightly fewer consumers expected to purchase jewelry for the holiday.

A total of 19 percent of respondents who took the NRF’s recently completed Valentine’s Day spending survey said they plan to give jewelry this year, down from the 20 percent who said they would give the gift of bling last year.

The average amount consumers said they plan to spend on jewelry is expected to increase, from $157.32 to $162.03.

However, overall spending on jewelry is projected to drop, reaching $3.9 billion compared with a projected $4.4 billion last year. (The NRF said it provides only predictions for Valentine’s Day and does not follow up to record final spending figures.)

A greeting card remains the No. 1 Valentine’s Day gift, cited by 51 percent of respondents, followed by candy at 49 percent and flowers and an evening out, both at 37 percent.

None of this is shocking news to jewelers, who definitely don’t depend on Feb. 14 to make their year.

Prosper Insights & Analytics conducted the NRF’s Valentine’s Day survey between Jan. 2 and 13, polling 6,417 consumers.

In a sign of these still-challenging, but technologically advanced times, the greatest percentage of survey-takers, 35 percent, said they would purchase their Valentine’s Day gifts at a discount store, just edging out the No. 2 answer, department store. The third most-selected location was online, chosen by 26 percent of respondents.

A total of 10 percent of survey-takers said they would purchase their Valentine’s Day gift at a jewelry store.

While the vast majority of shoppers will enter a store of some sort to buy their gift, many of those likely will scout out their presents online using their smartphone or tablet computer.

One-quarter of survey-takers said they would research products/compare prices on their smartphone this Valentine’s Day and 32 percent plan to do so using their tablet computer.

In addition, 16 percent of smartphone and 18 percent of tablet owners said they will use their device to look up a retailer’s information, such as their location, store hours and directions.

Applications, or apps, were decidedly less popular, cited as a research tool by only 7 percent of smartphone users and 9 percent of tablet users, and as a price-comparison tool by only 8 percent of those who own a smartphone and 9 percent of those who use tablets. 

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