Romance is alive and well across Kenya. And Kenyans are spending more than ever before on romantic experiences and going beyond traditional gifts to make their partners happy.
According to Mastercard’s annual Love Index, the number of transactions on hotels in Kenya has risen by 65% from 2017 to 2019 against 22% globally, putting hotels at the top of the wish list for Kenyans in the lead up to the most romantic day of the year.
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Driven by this wanderlust, Kenyans also spent 37% more than they did in 2017 on booking flights and trips, escaping with their partners to celebrate this special time of the year.
“Kenyans are keeping pace with global trends and favouring experiences over traditional gifts,” says Mr Adam Jones, Area Business Head East Africa, Mastercard. “It’s clear that the younger generation values the opportunity to create a shared experience.”
The Index, a study of transactions ahead of Valentine’s Day (11th -14th February 2017-2019) identifies spending habits and trends during this period by analysing credit, debit and prepaid card transactions from 53 countries around the world.
Now in its fifth year, the findings reveal that the world’s ‘love economy’ is growing five times faster than the global economy, with Valentine’s Day spend around the world up 17% since 2017.
In Kenya, sentimental spending around Valentine’s Day has increased even more – up by 32% since 2017, with the overall transactions up by a whopping 51%. This growth is significantly higher than the global average of 17%, and total transactions increase of 31%.
The rise of online shopping also continues, with a 64% spike in online transactions in Valentine’s Day period against 57% globally over the past three years.
Food continues to be a safe way to people’s hearts, with spend in restaurants increasing for Valentine’s Day year-on-year. Kenyans are more likely than other global romantics to treat their loved ones to special meals on Valentine’s Day, with the amount spent on restaurants increasing by 18% in 2019, against 16% globally.
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Kenyan shoppers buck global trends when it comes to gifting jewellery for Valentine’s Day. While global spend on jewellery for the occasion increased by just 6% globally, Kenya recorded a 21% increase in jewellery spend in the run-up to Valentine’s Day.
However, flowers appear to be falling from favour in Kenya as Valentine’s Day flower sales decreased by 29% last year, while global sales increased by 3%.
Valentine’s Day cards remain a firm favourite in Kenya, where spending has increased by 24% in 2019 from the previous year, and by 5% from 2017 to 2018. In contrast, global spend on Valentine’s Day cards has increased by just 2 per cent in the past three years.
“The Mastercard Love Index is a unique look at how buying behaviour is evolving over time, and as we make our way in a new decade, we expect the trend of investing in time and memories together to continue to grow,” says Mr Jones.
The data also revealed a positive trend of a more organised Valentine’s Day planner, with the majority of transactions taking place earlier than ever before and the number of last-minute shoppers falling.
The year 2019 saw the majority of Valentine’s Day transactions take place on 11th Feb, compared to 2018 where they took place on 12th Feb and 2017 where they took place on 13th February.