Money

Cupid's arrow goes 'ka-ching!' this Valentine's Day

Love is in the air and cupid has those cash registers ringing.

The average person who celebrates Valentine’s Day is expected to shell out about $142 to show their affection, up from $134, according to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Sweets and flowers remain the go-to Valentine’s Day gifts. More than half (52 percent) of those surveyed said they’d buy candy, 37 percent will give flowers and more than a third (35 percent) plan a special night out with dinner and/or a movie. One in five (21 percent) will buy jewelry. Clothing and gift cards are also popular.

Total it all up and Americans could spend a record $18.9 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts this year. NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay calls this “a good sign for consumer sentiment” as we head into 2015.

Man vs. woman – yes, there is a difference

A new survey by the Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research confirms what you might expect: The most romantic day of the year means different things to men and woman.

Men view Valentine’s Day as a holiday to pamper their significant other. They tend to spend almost twice as much ($116 on average) as women, but they typically buy for just one person. Men are also much more competitive about their gift-giving than women.

Men said they would feel “much happier, prouder and more satisfied” if they found out that their significant other had spent less than them on Valentine’s Day, the researchers reported. Conversely, learning that their significant other had spent more than them would make many men feel “unhappy, dissatisfied and embarrassed.”

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Women plan to spend less overall ($77 on average), but they are much more likely to shower the love on a number of different people in their lives, including children, friends and co-workers – even pets. And they were “quite indifferent” as to whether their partner had spent more or less than them for a gift.

Maybe cupid doesn’t have an unlimited budget

Roses say romance and anyone who plans to buy a dozen on Saturday should plan to pay top dollar. The Society of American Florists surveyed its members and found that the average price for an arrangement of a dozen long-stemmed roses on Valentine’s Day would cost $81.60. But that’s actually less than the average amount that surveyed florists said they charged for the same arrangement on Valentine’s Day 2014.

If you want the best price, order early and be sure to ask about specials and look for coupons. Some florists will offer discounts or free delivery if you schedule delivery on Thursday or Friday.

You can also lower the cost by choosing unarranged flowers without a vase. It’s always fun to go to the florist, pick exactly what you want and give those flowers to your sweetheart in person.

Before you buy any candy, make sure you know what your sweetie likes. If your Valentine is very picky, don’t waste money on a box of assorted chocolates. Getting a custom-filled box at a candy shop might be a better value in the long run.

Herb Weisbaum is The ConsumerMan. Follow him on Facebook and Twitteror visit The ConsumerMan website.

This article was originally published Feb. 9, 2015 at 1:07 p.m. ET.

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