Valentine’s Day by the numbers, are you sitting down?

Valentine's Day spending
© Masson

The holiday once marked by amorous missives and hand-plucked posies has evolved into a day of staggering statistics.

From a darker history, Saint Valentine’s Day emerged as a much sweeter holiday in the Middle Ages and became a popular occasion to celebrate romance. Handmade cards and billets-doux were the currency of love and eventually flowers were introduced into the fray. The 19th century ushered in factory-made cards; 1913 brought us Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Missouri. And just like that, Valentine’s Day has never been the same.

While retailers and manufacturers of heart-shaped schmaltz surely appreciate our conflation of love and consumerism, it’s hard not feel a bit dirty by the whole shebang. And not dirty in a good way. Not to be a cynic or anything, but we spend a lot of money and create a lot of waste on Valentine’s Day – and that doesn’t feel very lovey. Here’s the breakdown for sweethearts in the United States, according to the National Retail Federation’s Valentine’s Day Consumer Spending Survey.

91: The percentage of people who plan to treat their significant others to something special for the heart-themed day.
58.7: The percentage of people who will purchase gifts for other family members and for children’s classmates and teachers.
One quarter: The number of Valentine's revelers who will shop online.
13.3: The percentage who will shop at a local or small business to find something special.
$703 million: The amount of money that will be spent on pets.
$1.5 billion: The amount that will be spent on gift cards. (Because nothing says "I love you" like, “I have no clue what to get you.”)
$1.7 billion: The amount that will be spent on candy.
$2 billion: The amount that will be spent on clothing.
$2.1 billion: The amount that will be spent on flowers.
$3.6 billion: The amount that will be spent on a special night out.
$4.8 billion: The amount that will be spent on jewelry.
$18.9 billion: The total amount Americans are expected to spend on Valentine’s Day this year.
66 million: The total number of hungry school-age children across the globe who could be fed for six years for the same amount of money Americans will spend on Valentine’s Day this year.

Valentine’s Day by the numbers, are you sitting down?
The holiday once marked by amorous missives and hand-plucked posies has evolved into a day of staggering statistics.

Related Content on Treehugger.com