Last updated on Jul 7th, 2020 at 02:36 pm

What are South African expectations of the holiday of love? What does the perfect Valentine’s Day look like according to women and men? Which gifts are the most expected and which should be avoided?

Picodi Analysis Team decided to look into one of the most commercialised holidays in the world and check how much love is still there…



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The popularity of this holiday is evident if you look at the number of South Africans who declare that they celebrate Valentine’s Day – a staggering 74%!

Although an overwhelming majority of people prepare a surprise mainly for their significant other, there are some who don’t leave out their friends (17%) or relatives (4%).

An average South African will spend R744 on a Valentine’s Day gift. Men spend around R566 more than women do: R1 027 vs R461.

What’s interesting is that more than half (58%) of South Africans don’t think about Valentine’s Day gifts until February. This is consistent with Picodi’s internal data, according to which we can observe a spike in shopping activity around two weeks before Valentine’s Day. Especially in demand are products such as jewellery or perfumes. 4% of South Africans leave shopping until the last moment – on 13 and 14 February.

Read more: Romance doesn’t have to cost a lot: 5 Valentines experiences under R200

Women’s take on Valentine’s Day



What is it that sparks joy in a woman’s heart on Valentine’s Day – a gift, displays of affection and love, or perhaps a promise of commitment? The survey results show that both material and non-material aspects are equally important for the majority of women (57%). 10% of women find gifts to be important on Valentine’s Day whereas 33% of respondents would rather spend time with their partner.

Women chose flowers (65%), jewellery (51%), perfume (46%), sweets (38%) and gift vouchers (32%) to be the perfect Valentine’s Day gift, whereas home appliances (24%), plush toys (18%) and money (15%) were deemed unpopular gift choices. Interestingly, flowers and sweets were also voted as the least desirable gift by the surveyed women (21% and 16% respectively).

What is the perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day according to women?

The survey results don’t give the perfect recipe for a successful Valentine’s Day date, however, among the most popular activities were having a romantic dinner in a restaurant (37%), cooking dinner together (29%), taking a romantic bath (27%), making love (27%) and watching a movie at home (21%).

It turns out that going to a concert (22%) or seeing a play (20%) is considered a bad idea, as is relaxing doing nothing (19%), playing board games (18%) or spending time actively (17%).

Men’s take on Valentine’s Day



The answers of the surveyed men show that pleasing them can be more difficult than pleasing women. 16% of men expect a material gift from their partner, 28% do not want any gifts but they would like to spend time together with their significant other, and 56% declare that they would like to have both.

The most desired gifts:

Perfume (34%)
Sweets (33%)
Handmade gift (32%)
Valentine’s Day card (30%)
Flowers (29%)

The least desired gifts:

Money (25%)
Sex toy (24%)
Flowers (21%)
Underwear (20%)
Home appliance (18%)

Flowers seem to have stirred quite a controversy among men since they voted those items as both the most and least desirable gifts.

What does the perfect Valentine’s Day look for men? In this case, they partially agree with the fairer sex: men would like to go to the cinema or a restaurant, make love, go out of town or cook dinner together. The list of unfortunate Valentine’s Day dates among men looks almost the same as the one compiled by women.

Because the thought is all that matters


On average, South Africans spend R744 on gifts (around $53), which places them 26th in the ranking. They spend less than Vietnamese ($57) do, but more than Nigerians ($51).

Valentine’s Day drives the economy the most in Ireland, Thailand and the UK, where more than $120 (R1 600) is spent on average on gifts. People don’t splurge on gifts in India ($35), Belarus ($34) and the Philippines ($33).


This report is based on the results of a survey conducted in the second half of January 2019 among 6 400 people from 38 countries where Valentine’s Day is celebrated. For currency conversion, we used the average exchange rate for January 2019.


Read this next: Love is in the air! Here’s how celebrity couples celebrate Valentine’s Day