Valentine’s Day By the Numbers

Love is in the Air…and in the Cash Registers

According to a few forecasters, Valentine’s Day spending is on the upswing.  Does that mean we are feeling more romantic in 2011, or just wealthier?

Both the National Retail Federation (NRF) and IBISWorld predict that spending for Valentine’s Day will increase this year.  The NRF forecasts that the average person will spend $116.21 on traditional Valentine’s Day merchandise in 2011, up 12.8 percent over last year’s $103.00, with total holiday spending expected to reach $15.7 billion.   IBISWorld  is even more optimistic, forecasting that holiday spending will top $18.6 billion, which amounts to about $125 per person. The NRF also points out that men will spend the most on Valentine’s Day gifts, with the average man planning to spend twice as much ($158.71) as the average woman ($75.79).

Sweets for Your Sweet?

In surprising news to anyone who has walked through a drugstore or supermarket the day after Christmas and spotted aisles full of Valentine’s Day treats, Mintel is forecasting that Valentine’s Day chocolate sales will be down for a third consecutive year in 2011.  In fact, Mintel estimates a continued decline through 2015,  anticipating that the $285 million market will decrease to $233 million by 2015.  But, both the NRF and IBISWorld are seeing a rise in jewelry sales for the holiday.   Good news for those who prefer sparkly to sweet!

In Keeping With Tradition

According to the Worcester Historical Museum, for nearly 100 years Worcester was the center of the commercial valentine industry in the United States. In 1879, Worcester resident Esther Rowland (widely credited with being the first American to manufacture valentines) joined forces with Edward Taft to form the New England Valentine Company.  What had started as a home-based enterprise grew into a business that grossed $100,000 in annual sales.  Today, the Valentine’s Day card industry is thriving.  The Greeting Card Association estimates that 160 million greeting cards will be purchased for Valentine’s Day this year. We wonder what Esther would think about that?

The staff of the Bentley Library wishes you all a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sources consulted:
American Antiquarian Society. (2001, January 25). Making Valentines: A Tradition in America – Esther Howland. Retrieved from
Greeting Card Association. (2011, February 2). Greeting Card Sales Expected to Rise for Valentine’s Day 2011. Retrieved from
IBISWorld Media Center
Mintel Group. (2010, August). Seasonal Chocolate – US. Retrieved from Mintel Oxygen database.
National Retail Federation (2011, January 27). Love is in the Air This Valentine’s Day, According to NRF. Retrieved from
Worcester Historical Museum (n.d.). Worcester’s Own – Valentines.  Retrieved from: