On Valentine's Day, $36 billion worth of love

Valentine's Day is about three things: Love, chocolate and money. The holiday, which traces its origins to a Roman festival of drunkenness and "matchmaking," has evolved into the romantic celebration of today, and in so doing it has become a potent economic force. According to the National Retail Federation, it trails only Mother's Day and Christmas in terms of total holiday spending.

So, here's a look at the day of romance -- by the numbers:

  • Percentage of the population planningto participate in Valentine's Day this year: 74 percent, up 5 percent from last year.
  • Total amount Americans are expected to spend: $36.8 billion, or an average of $213 each, down from last year's average of $239.
  • Amount spent on gifts: $13.4 billion, or an average of $119 each, up from $110 last year.
  • Percentage of the population planning to buy a gift: 60 percent, a 4 percent drop from 2013.
  • Top gifts from men: greeting cards (57 percent), flowers (54 percent) and jewelry (24 percent).
  • Amount forecast to be spent on flowers: $1.9 billion.
  • Percentage of people buying red roses: 51 percent.
  • Percentage of those who are men: 73 percent.
  • Estimated number of flowers grown for the holiday: 233 million.
  • Top gifts from women: greeting cards (57 percent), gadgets (16 percent) and gift cards (13 percent).
  • Number ofValentine's Day cards exchanged: 180 million.
  • Percentage of cards bought by women: 85 percent.
  • Percentage of the population planning to go out to dinner: 53 percent, down 4 percent from last year.
  • Average amount expected to be spent on dinner: $83, a $10 dollar drop from last year.
  • Total amount projected to be spent on candy: $1.6 billion.
  • Number of Sweethearts candy produced by The New England Confectionery Co. each year: 8 billion.
  • Number of Sweethearts in a pound: 250 (approximately).
  • Cost of a 32-pound case of Sweethearts: $96.
  • Cost of 1 pound of Sweethearts with customized messages: $35.
  • Cost of a half-ounce, 24-karat gold Sweetheart: $5,000.

  • Constantine von Hoffman On Twitter»

    Constantine von Hoffman is a freelance writer and writing coach. His work has appeared in outlets such as Harvard Business Review, NPR, Sierra magazine, Brandweek, CIO, The Boston Herald, TheStreet.com, CSO, and Boston Magazine.

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