According the NRF, we are expected to top last year’s record at $21.8 billion spending in 2021, despite coronavirus impacting the holiday. “There is no question the pandemic has disrupted many aspects of Americans’ daily interactions and activities,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “However, there remains a special significance around Valentine’s Day, and consumers are committed to celebrating friends and loved ones, even if that means having to alter those traditional holiday celebrations.”

When we were in elementary school, most of us have fond memories of receiving cards and candy on every February 14th. We would bring a decorated shoe-box to school and by the end of the day, it would be filled with sweet notes from our classmates and lots of candy.

But how many of us knew then, or know now, the history of Valentine’s Day? Or how big Valentine’s Day business really is? Let’s explore.

A Muddled History of Valentine’s Day

The history of Valentine’s Day is shrouded in mystery – and some would say its origins are anything but romantic. But most historians agree that today’s holiday can trace its roots through both Christian and Roman history.

Many historians suggest that the ancient Romans are responsible for our modern Valentine’s Day because Emperor Claudius II executed two men – both happened to be named Valentine – on February 14th of different years in the 3rd century. Legend suggests that one of the Valentines, a priest, performed marriages in secret despite the fact Claudius had outlawed marriage for young men because he decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives. When Claudius discovered that Valentine was performing marriages, he was put to death.

Other historians suggest that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February to “Christianize” celebration of Lupercalia, which was a fertility festival – as well as a pagan one – dedicated to the Roman god of Agriculture, Faunus.

The Business of Valentine’s Day

No matter your historical perspective, no one can argue that in 1913, Valentine’s Day forever changed when a Kansas City-based firm named Hallmark Cards began mass-producing Valentine’s Day cards.

And today, Valentine’s Day is huge business:

    • According to the National Retail Federation, consumers in the U.S. will spend an estimated $21.8 billion on gifts for Valentine’s Day, up from $20.7 billion the previous year.
    • More than 10 percent, or about $2 billion, will be spent on flowers. And this one day represents 13% of the annual flower sales.
    • According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year (2.6 billion cards are sent during Christmas).
    • Women purchase approximately 85% of all valentines. But men spend almost twice as much as women on Valentine’s Day gifts.
    • $165 is the average amount we will each spend on Valentine’s Day in 2021
    • $3.7 billion is the total amount spent by couples planning a night out on Valentine’s Day.
    • 94% of Americans want chocolate as a gift.

Valentine’s Day & Financial Planning

So, you’re probably wondering, “what does Valentine’s Day have to do with financial planning?”

Well, I could suggest that the amount of money we spend each Valentine’s Day is reflective of the overall economy, much like Black Friday signifies the health of the upcoming shopping season. Or I could suggest that the $21 billion is a big part of our consumer spending, which makes up 2/3 of our GDP (but remember U.S. GDP is about $21.5 trillion).

But truthfully, Valentine’s Day is simply something we need to consider as apart of our overall budget to ensure we can celebrate the holiday without panicking about the price.

Unsure what to get an adored elderly relative? Read my list of creative ideas.

Unsure how to factor Valentine’s Day into your budget? Learn how to manage large or irregular expenses right now!

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Adapted from FMEX Direct with permission.