The history of Valentine's Day is a little murky. One theory holds that it's inspired by Lupercalia, an ancient Roman fertility festival held on the Ides of February, or February 15. Another explanation suggests that it honors Valentinus, a Roman priest who defied an edict from Emperor Claudius II and married young lovers in secret.
Regardless of its origins, present-day Valentine's Day celebrations are all the rage, especially in the eyes of retailers. In fact, the National Retail Federation is predicting that Valentine's Day spending will top $17.3 billion this year. Though that figure is smaller than last year's, there are plenty of impressive Valentine's Day numbers to love.
Most Expensive Box of Chocolates: $1.5 Million
In a quest to locate the most expensive box of chocolates ever sold, we came across an array of decadence: chocolates infused with cigar smell (how romantic?) for about $300; chocolate wrapped in edible gold for roughly $1,600; and Serendipity 3's $25,000 Frrozen Haute Chocolate — a blend of 28 cocoas infused with 5 grams of edible 23-karat gold and served in a goblet lined, again, with edible gold. Still, nothing can top the $1.5 million "Le Chocolate Box" once offered by St. Louis-based Simons Jewelers. The "Le Chocolate Box" included necklaces, earrings, rings, and bracelets adorned with yellow and blue diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires with about a dozen gourmet chocolates.
Total Jewelry Spending: $3.9 Billion
Maybe all the polar vortex action this winter froze men in their tracks on the way to the jewelry store; spending on diamonds and baubles is expected to be less than last year's $4.4 billion. Still, $3.9 billion is a lot of money for one holiday: that's $12.42 for every many, woman, and child in the United States. However, we do not recommend spending that average amount on jewelry and calling it good, especially if it's on sale.
Overall Valentine's Day Spending: $133.91 Per Person
This figure marks a slight uptick from 2013, when the average person spent $130.97 on all things red and delicious. According to Prosper Insights and Analytics, more than half (51.2%) of people will send greeting cards; nearly half (48.7%) will buy candy; a third will give flowers (37.3%); and 19% will treat their lovers to jewelry.
What Ladies Will Spend on Their Fellas: $49.41
You have to wonder if something happened between last year and Valentine's 2014 that upset countless ladies. In 2013, they spent $88.78 on their guys — 46% more! Part of the issue is that fewer consumers are planning to celebrate Valentine's Day this year, says Prosper Insights and Analytics Director Pam Goodfellow.
What Fellas Will Spend on Ladies: $108.38
Well, well, well: If all's fair in love and war, it makes sense that men are dropping their overall spend this year, too. Last year's NRF survey showed that men spent $175.61 on their significant others, marking a decrease of 38% this year. That's not as much as female spending is expected to drop, but it's still significant. However, this year a remarkable 19.4% of guys will buy gifts for their furry friends, spending an average of $5.51.
The Cost of a Dozen Roses Delivered: About $130
Houston Asset Management compiled a "Cost of Loving Index" for 2014 to project the prices of certain Valentine's Day items, including the delivery of a dozen roses. The festive fauna will cost you $129.07 — more than double the 1990 price tag of $65. There are many explanations for why roses go up in price right around Valentine's Day, including an avalanche of demand and a short-term crunch for the manual labor needed to harvest the flowers. (That said, a savvy shopper can spend less with a few choice flower deals.)
A Bottle of Simi California Chardonnay: $23.12
Roses may go up in price every year, but some items buck that trend. Wine often makes for a lovely Valentine's Day gesture, but it's even lovelier when the final bill goes down. The "Cost of Loving Index" reports that Simi California Chardonnay has dipped in price by almost 11% from last year. When was the last time you saw a cool Valentine's gift get cheaper, fellas?
While spending looks to fall in some categories, the strong feeling that drives Valentine's Day giving doesn't have to drop off. It can even grow this year, given a little creativity and inspiration. If it's true that the thought counts more than the gift, allow us to play Cupid and kindly suggest that whatever you have to give this year, give it to the one you love with all of your heart, and lots of soul.
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