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.