If romance is measurable, it’s slowing down in Greater China

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Valentine's Day spending has been on the rise in the Asia-Pacific region, according to MasterCard. Photo: iStock

Is romance slowing down in Greater China? The latest “MasterCard Love Index” showed that average spending in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan was down during last year’s Valentine’s Day period.

However, they were still ranked as the top three Valentine’s spenders in the Asia-Pacific region.

In mainland China, consumers spent an average of US$275 in the period between February 11 and 14, 2017, down 10% from the same period a year earlier. Ditto for Taiwanese, who ranked second in the Asia-Pacific region with average spending of US$245.

Hong Kong ranked third with an average spend of US$231, down 19%.

But why the decline? Are couples suddenly finding they are not loving each other as much and not buying each other gifts? Or are they not using credit cards for spending? MasterCard creates its annual Love Index by analyzing global credit, debit and prepaid transactions.

Well, these are possible explanations, but if the same trend becomes apparent this year, it may be because Valentine’s 2018 falls just days before the Lunar New Year, with many people heading home for the festive season.

Region-wide, spending during the Valentine’s period last year was up by 22% from 2015. Overall transactions during the period were up 74% over the three-year period, especially for food, which seems to be the universal language of affection.

Rustom Dastoor, MasterCard’s senior vice-president for marketing and communications, Asia-Pacific, said the proof was in the purchase.

“Whether it’s a small, sweet gesture or a sumptuous surprise for that special someone, consumers in Asia-Pacific are feeling the love and spending more than ever before.”

There may be another reason for the apparent decline in Greater China spending – perhaps more consumers, especially mainland Chinese, are using Alipay and WeChat Pay more than MasterCard and the other payment methods the index monitors.

Count them for more accurate data. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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