Let's get something straight about that rock and roll sentiment, "money can't buy me love." First off, the guy who wrote that malarkey, Paul McCartney, is a now billionaire. And second, let's see how that line flies as an excuse for not spending any dough on your sweetie this Valentine's Day, shall we?
The consumer forecast this Valentine's Day is a mixed box of chocolates. According to the National Retail Federation, Valentine's Day spending is expected to only modestly increase from 2012, by about 4%. But that still amounts to a staggering $18.6 billion total. Think of all the chocolates you could buy with that much cash.
So whether you're a suave so-and-so who's got the limo, flowers, and champagne ready, or a lazy lover trying to turn a can of Pringles and a bowling alley trip into a romantic evening, here's how Valentine's Day breaks down by the numbers. And remember: While money can't buy you love, it can buy a very romantic night out.
Overall Valentine's Day Spending: $130.97 Per Person
That figure also comes to us from the National Retail Foundation, and represents a jump from 2012's figure of $126.03. And while that sets a record, it only does so slightly. In 2012, spending jumped almost 9% over 2011; in 2013 it's climbing by half as much percentage-wise. And while we can see the budget-conscious guys out there breathing a sigh of relief, keep in mind that while this figure covers cards, flowers, candy, and jewelry, it doesn't include that all-important romantic dinner.
Valentine's Day Dinner: About $150
In 2012, Zagat conducted its first Valentine's Day survey, in preparation for what's one of the biggest dining nights of the year. They found folks were prepared to spend $147 on their romantic meal. Results for this year aren't in until next week, but if you apply the 4% increase to that number, the bill will jump to $153 this February 14. A quick check of big-city dining options shows that figure to be fairly reliable; at Chicago's Deleece, Valentine's Day has a prix fixe menu with chocolate fondue dessert that runs $100 per couple, and $130 with wine pairings. (Those prices, by the way, are up 25% from just two years ago, and you can expect to see similar price increases elsewhere.)
A Dozen Roses: About $85
Everyone knows that roses go up in price every Valentine's Day, and while florists will always argue otherwise, the truth of the matter is that roses go up in price because no one's going to balk at a few extra dollars when romance hangs in the balance. In 2012, The Los Angeles Times reported that a dozen roses would set people back about $80, based on figures from the Society of American Florists. Expect that to rise a bit this year, to about $85. Of course, there are cheaper options if you're a careful shopper.
Jewelry: $4.4 Billion Total
Diamonds or gold? Hoop earrings or a pendant? As the ladies will tell you, these are great questions to ask, while whether to buy jewelry or pass is a non-starter. The National Retail Federation predicts that $4.4 billion — or $12.75 for every man, woman, and child in America — will be spent on jewelry, the choice of one in five gift givers. Now guys, let's go over this carefully: A power saw covered in rhinestones doesn't count. It has to be something she can wear, and not from the local pharmacy's costume jewelry section.
Romantic Getaways: More Than $2 Billion Total
Last year, travelers on romantic getaways for Valentine's spent an estimated $2.16 billion, according to PhoCusWright, which quoted figures from the industry research firm IBISWorld. That's likely to rise this year, with Valentine's Day falling on a Thursday, making for a nice long weekend jaunt. Given that winter has gotten nasty of late, the timing for a warm-weather break couldn't be better. If you're looking for a bargain, there's still time; be sure to check out our travel deals for excellent (and inexpensive) travel options.
Men Will Spend $175.61, Ladies Will Drop $88.78
They say all is fair in love and war, but the numbers don't bear it out — and any guy who wants to whine about it might as well ask for a skirmish of another kind. That said, look at it this way: The ladies have every right to expect a proper wooing on Valentine's Day, lest romance and chivalry be dead. What's more, if the ladies spend more than $80 a piece, that's a respectable showing. The NRF forecast suggests they'll spend on cards, clothing, chocolates, and more. But to a guy, nothing says love quite like power tools, a big-screen TV, or tickets to the big game. (Then again, clothing may be nice, only we imagine he'd appreciate something new and slinky for his lady rather than himself.)
Of course, vacation getaways, a luxury hotel room, or some kind of all-out show of romantic derring-do will throw your budget in all sorts of multi-digit directions. On the other hand, you may be the resourceful type who's going to make a fine showing with a blanket under the stars, a reading of Keats' poetry, and a bottle of "three-buck-Chuck" from Trader Joe's. At either extreme, Valentine's Day can be done, and your honey's heart won. After all, the most important numbers in any February 14 celebration are the only ones that count in the end: two together as one happy couple.