What South Africans are buying each other on Valentine’s day

South Africans have continued to increase their spending on loved ones, with new data showing that sentimental spending has increased by 50% since 2015 – and the number of transactions is up by 63% during the same period.

This is according to the latest ‘Mastercard Love Index’, which was created by analysing credit, debit and prepaid transactions across the past three Valentine periods (11th-14th February 2015- 2017) in South Africa.

The index found that dining out for ‘date night’ remains one of the most popular activities for South Africans.

Share of spend on restaurants has remained stable over the past three years, taking a 34% share of spend and a significant 82% share of transactions in 2017.

Travel experiences are also a popular purchase, with hotels taking the highest share of spend (37%) with a 9% share of transactions in 2017.

The number of transportation transactions also increased by 144% in 2017, accounting for 21% of total spend during the Valentine’s Day period.

“The data supports the rise of the ‘experience economy’ as happiness clearly comes from creating lasting memories – worthy of posting on social media – instead of purchasing ‘things’,” said Mark Elliott, division president of Mastercard Southern Africa.

In comparison money spent on traditional gifts such as flowers decreased by 25% in 2017 versus 2015 and the number of transactions decreased by 21%. Spending on jewellery decreased by 15% compared to 2015 but the number of transactions remained flat.


Some of the other major trends points picked up by the study include:

  • The data suggests that South Africans are getting ahead of the curve when buying gifts. It’s no longer left until the last minute, as the majority (32%) of Valentine’s purchases in South Africa are made on the 11th February.
  • However, just over a quarter (26%) of all transactions (between 11th – 14th February) were made on Valentine’s Day itself.
  • The rise of online shopping in South Africa continues with an enormous 990% increase in the number of e-commerce transactions from Valentine’s Day 2015 to Valentine’s Day 2017.
  • Nonetheless, 97% of transactions around Valentine’s Day are still made in person with only three percent of gifts purchased online.
  • Spoiling your loved one on Valentine’s Day shows no signs of slowing down with the data suggesting that while people still purchase traditional gifts, the move towards putting on a great experience trumps all.

Read: Here’s what you need to know about tax when getting married

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What South Africans are buying each other on Valentine’s day