January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

Once More From The Heart

Two of three home Internet users expect to buy a gift for Valentine's Day, and they will spend a total of $3.6 billion, says a study by PC Data Online, Reston, Va. Approximately $730 million of this will be spent online, it says. E-commerce market research firm PC Data Online surveyed 1,346 home-based Internet users about their anticipated buying both online and offline. The study showed respondents expect to spend $100 on average for Valentine's Day gifts. Almost 69% said they were not likely to buy online, while 31.3% said they were likely to buy online.

"Valentine's Day gifts are typically bought at the last minute and our review of online traffic to gifts, flowers, greeting cards and jewelry sites confirms this," says Sean Wargo, Internet analyst for PC Data Online. "Look for the spike representing Valentine's Day purchases to occur this weekend."

On average, male respondents said they expect to spend $107 for Valentine's Day gifts, while women expect to spend $46. Men are more likely to buy flowers (72%) and jewelry (28%), while women more likely to buy chocolates (61%). Some 65% of respondents said they expect to send online greeting cards. By gender, this was 82% of women and 58% of men. Almost 29% of home Internet users said they plan to go out to dinner with a loved one, 27% said they will share a night at home and 23% said they will do not plan to do anything special, the survey shows.

"Our daily tracking of online gift, flowers, greeting card and jewelry sites suggest that women strongly outnumbered men in purchasing this week," Wargo says. "I am sure we will see male buyers aptly represented in the last-minute spree expected immediately before Valentine's Day."

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