By Billions, Cupid Tops Big Game


In a battle of titans and pocketbooks, the ‘Big Game’ on February 13 will face off against the Big Day of Love on February 14. Hopefully there is enough money for both. Billions (with a ‘b’) will be spent. Keep in mind there was historic spending over the 2021 winter holidays, estimated at $886.7 billion (also with a ‘b’).

The National Retail Federation (NRF) is the world’s largest retail trade organization. It regularly forecasts consumer spending on shopping activities like back-to-school, Halloween, Christmas, and yes, Valentine’s Day. NRF also slips in a forecast on the culmination of the NFL football season, sometimes referred to as the Big Game.

2022’s spending estimate from NRF for Valentine’s Day is $23.9 billion, up from $21.8 billion in 2021 and the second-highest to 2020’s pre-pandemic spending of $27.4 billion. Even a day of chocolates, cards, flowers and dinners is not immune to a global pandemic. While spending was off in 2021, in economist-speak, it is rebounding nicely this year. Quite nicely.

NRF says candy, at 56 percent, greeting cards, 40 percent, and flowers, 37 percent, are the most popular spending choices for Valentine’s. Around $4.3 billion will be spent on an evening out by 31 percent of NRF’s survey participants. $6.2 billion is expected to be spent on jewelry this year, well up from 2021’s $4.1 billion.

In lieu of candy and flowers, NRF says there is great interest for gifts of experience . . . . (sidebar: careful, minds are being read and hands tipped). NRF says these types of gifts include concerts, cultural activities, or sporting events. In 2022 this anticipated expenditure is trending upward, with 41 percent of survey participants saying they’d love this type of gift. Impacted by COVID in 2021, only 36 percent favored a gift of experience.

What about the Big Game? It should be noted that the NFL is hyper-protective of the use of the term, Super Bowl®. Any commercial activity that uses or refers to the Super Bowl®, i.e. “Stock up on snacks for the Super Bowl®” is a violation of the NFL’s trademark or copyright infringement. Promoters are advised not to get too cute with shuffling the words around. Even using the term “Superb Owl” along the lines of “Start Superb Owl Shopping Early” is a no-no. The Big Game is the NFL’s Golden Goose.

Details for 2022 are pending from NRF, but 2021’s spending on the Big Game was $13.9 billion. That’s down from the pre-pandemic spending of $14.8 billion in 2020. Much like Valentine’s 2022, armchair economists envision a rebound this year. And why not? Over 186 million adults will likely watch it. Thirty second ads spots command a reported price of $6.5 million. The ads represent the Big Game of sorts in creativity circles so it’s no wonder that millions of viewers will tune in. The sporting event may be secondary.

Last year, NRF estimated almost $75 per person would be spent by those watching the game. If that seems high, note that $89 was spent by consumers in 2020 and $81 was spent in 2019. But spending on what? Food and beverages, at 77 percent, followed by team apparel and accessories, 11 percent, TVs, nine percent, and decorations, seven percent, are NRF’s best estimates. Even furniture, at five percent, was a Big Game expense category. Hey, you have to be comfortable.

And lastly, NRF’s survey participants said watching the game, at 43 percent, was most important to viewers last year, followed by the commercials, at 22 percent, and the halftime show, at 16 percent.

Romantics and sport enthusiasts are reminded to shop stores and patronize restaurants throughout the St. Croix Valley. They could use a mid-winter boost. Unique jewelry, candies, cards, and menu entrees await consumers. Try a double dip on back-to-back days for the Big Game and Big Day of Love.