CHARTS: The Economics of Valentine's Day

Americans are spending on romance again, and men throw down far more cash than women.

Being there for your partner every day more important than gifts or flowers, a study finds.

Being there for your partner every day more important than gifts or flowers, a study finds.

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It's a common belief that Valentine's Day is a manufactured holiday, promoted by greeting card companies, Russell Stover, and the likes of Victoria's Secret to boost consumer spending. If that's true, the plan is working: Americans shell out billions of dollars every February 14. Data show exactly how that money is spread out.

Valentine's Day Recovery Nearly Complete

Data from the National Retail Federation show that spending took a nosedive during and after the Great Recession, falling from around $133 dollars per person in 2007 to $108 in 2010 (in 2012 dollars). However, things seem to be mostly recovered. This year, customers will spend around $18.6 billion on Valentine's Day, with the average person spending around $131, according to NRF survey data. Below, how that spending has varied over a decade.

(Source: National Retail Federation. All figures except 2013 are adjusted for inflation to 2012 dollars.)

Definitely a Hallmark Holiday

The most popular Valentine's Day gift is a greeting card, with over half of customers planning to buy one. Candy is a close second, followed by flowers. However, more expensive gifts like a night out or jewelry account for far more spending. Americans plan to spend over $4 billion on jewelry this Valentine's Day.

(Source: National Retail Federation.)

Men Open Their Wallets

According to NRF data, men spend nearly twice as much as women, shelling out around $175.61 compared to $88.78 for women.

But a new study shows that married men aren't as generous. Research from Harvard Business School—aside from putting Valentine's Day spending much lower than the National Retail Federation estimates—shows that single men spent around $81 on average on Valentine's Day 2010, far outstripping their married counterparts, as well as both married and single women, according to HealthDay.

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