Love is in the air today – and that means it’s time for couples all over the country to shower affection on each other by exchanging Valentine’s Day gifts.
It seems like more and more people in Malaysia are adopting gift-giving as their love language. A study by Mastercard released on Feb 13 found that sentimental spending – defined as spending in restaurants, hotels, transportation, books and records, jewellery and stationery – in the nation increased over recent years.
According to the Mastercard Love Index – based on an analysis of credit, debit and prepaid card transactions made on Feb 11 to 14 in 2016, 2017 and 2018 – sentimental spending in Malaysia increased by 23 per cent from 2016 to 2018, with the overall number of transactions up by 9 per cent.
Two popular Valentine’s Day gifts – or rather, experiences – in 2018 were travels and hotel staycations.
During the Valentine’s period in 2018, taking a trip to “a romantic destination” – via car, coach, train or plane – made up 25 per cent of total expenditure. The number of transactions for this category has increased by 49 per cent since 2016, Mastercard said.
Hotel spending also rose by 21 per cent from 2016 to 2018.
Two other popular gifts on the list were – you guessed it – flowers and jewellery.
Gift-givers were more generous with flower-giving in 2018. The overall amount spent on flowers increased by 104 per cent from 2016, while the number of transactions increased by 75 per cent.
The total amount spent on jewellery also increased over the years – albeit not as much as that of flowers – with total expenditure rising by 18 per cent.
Meanwhile, the number of transactions made in restaurants has increased by only 2 per cent over the past three years.
When compared with other Asia Pacific markets, Malaysia’s 23 per cent increase in sentimental spending over the three years was subtle. The top three markets were China (88 per cent), Japan (68 per cent) and Hong Kong (62 per cent).
Rise in popularity of contactless payments
The study also found that more gifts were bought with contactless payment methods in 2018. The value of contactless payments saw an increase of 315 per cent since 2017 while the share of contactless transactions soared by 286 per cent since 2017.
These percentages are way higher than the total increase across Asia Pacific – where the value of contactless transactions rose by 63 per cent, and the share of transactions increased by 60 per cent since 2016.
Online shopping has also been rising in popularity in Malaysia, with data from the study showing a 55 per cent increase in the number of e-commerce transactions from 2016 to 2018, over the Valentine’s Day period.
However, Mastercard found that around the Valentine’s Day period in 2018, 70 per cent of transactions were made in person, and only 19 per cent of gifts were purchased online.
Last minute shoppers
If you have not bought a gift yet, there’s no need to panic as it is likely that many others have not too, suggested Mastercard.
The study found that over the past three years, the largest proportion (28 per cent) of Valentine’s Day purchases in Malaysia happened on Feb 14 itself.
But hey, it’s not just people in Malaysia who were last minute shoppers. Across Asia Pacific, 29 per cent of purchases also happened on Valentine’s Day itself.
Things were different in China and Taiwan though, where 40 per cent and 32 per cent of consumers did their Valentine’s Day spending on Feb 12 and Feb 11 respectively.