How Much Money Is Spent on Valentine's Day?

You may be surprised to hear that the National Retail Federation just released a survey saying people will spend an average of $103 on Valentine's Day this year. That covers Valentine's Day gifts, a romantic dinner, Valentine's Day cards, etc...

But what surprises you about it may be different than what surprises other people. Because for some people, $103 sounds like a lot to spend on Valentine's Day. For others, it sounds like a paltry amount for the most romantic day of the year.

So if you're spending less, that means someone else who's clearly much more romantic, generous and economically stimulating than you is spending more.

The average is down only half a buck from last year, so apparently the Great Recession is no match for the Hallmark holiday. (OK, so it's not as Hallmark as Sweetest Day, but it's obviously near and dear to the National Retail Federation.)

On average, men spend twice as much as women for Valentine's Day, and it's not necessarily because we're feeling guilty about anything.

The survey also found that people will spend $3.27 on family pets but only $2.84 on co-workers. Slightly more than half of everyone who observes Valentine's Day will buy a card, 47% choose candy and 36% double-click on flowers. Hardly original, but time-tested.

You don't want to hear me going on about Valentine's Day, so I asked readers to send in a few thoughts on the subject and how it's best celebrated. We'll stick with first names because some of their comments and gift plans are personal or secret. Tracy, 23 and married, agrees with me that $103 a person sounds high. The day should be about spending time with someone you love and perhaps a small gift from the heart, she said. "Ideally, I think it would be cute if my husband handmade me a card or a frame, but let's be realistic." It's hard to top Robin and Maureen when it comes to homemade gifts this year. Robin made a "love jar" for her boyfriend. "On the front of the clear glass jar it says, 'I love . . . ' And inside I cut out lots of hearts and wrote on these hearts why I love him. One says, 'The jokes you tell (90% of the time).' And another says, 'You're always right here with me.' " And Maureen is penning a book of poetry for her husband. Not a poem. A whole book of poetry. "I am writing about him as a father, a son, a brother, a husband, a lover, a friend, etc." Dang, I may want to rethink the Pick 'n Save flowers. Mark and Karen are hosting a Daytona 500 party on Valentine's Day for 30 friends.
"As far as me and my wife doing something together, well this is more important to us than romantic stuff," Mark said. Careful there, buddy. Mike can almost top that. "Before our kids came along, our Valentine's Day date for a couple of consecutive years was an afternoon of ice fishing, followed by an early evening pizza at a warm and cozy lakeshore resort and an obligatory beer or two." These days it's just the pizza and drinks. Jennifer said V-Day is the one time she gets flowers from her husband. "This year, however, I'm hoping he will skip the flowers. He has been unemployed for over a year and money is tight." A bouquet on Valentine's Day doesn't work so well for Priscilla. "I'm the type that would rather get flowers 'just because.' " "Well, since you asked," Diane said, "my husband will be getting me the same thing he always gets me for Valentine's Day. Absolutely nothing! But I know he loves me and has for the past 27 years. . . . And in his defense, I don't get him anything either." Cheryl has dinner party plans for the big day. "We are a group of awesome women who are all over 50, divorced or never married, golden retriever lovers and very much OK with where we are in life."
Speaking of dogs, Deborah said, "Just last night I asked my boxer/basset mix puppy if he would be my Valentine. He enthusiastically responded with a lick, and what I believe to be a resounding yes!" Then she added, "Yes, I know, I desperately need to get a life. But all the good guys are either married or gay." And, finally, Pat points out that Valentine's Day this year is also the lunar new year. And so begins the Year of the Tiger. I'm guessing the Tiger who cats around will need to spend more than $103 to make things right with Elin.
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