- The Washington Times - Friday, February 14, 2020

The booming economy, healthy stock market and consumer optimism fostered by President Trump and his administration has a sweet byproduct. Americans are expected to spend a record breaking $27.4 billion on Valentine’s Day — up 35% from $20.7 billion last year, which was also a record-breaker.

“The unusually large increase in average spending appears to be due to strong consumer finances and a continued trend of consumers buying more gifts, cards, candy and flowers for friends, family, co-workers and pets,” said the National Retail federation in its analysis of the trend, noting that the number of Americans celebrating Valentine’s Day is now 55% — up four percentage points since 2019.

“Valentine’s Day is a sentimental tradition, but gift-giving can be driven by the economy. Consumers spent freely during the 2019 winter holidays and they appear ready to do the same in the new year. The same strong employment numbers and higher wages that boosted holiday sales should make it easier to spend a little extra to say ‘I love you’ this year and to spread the gift-giving beyond just your significant other,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the retail group.

The affectionate public is not scrimping either. In the organization’s annual consumer survey, Valentine’s Day celebrants dropped an average $196.31, up 21% over last year’s previous record of $161.96. The biggest share of spending still goes to spouses and significant others at 52% of the total, or an average $101.21 this year, up from $93.24 in 2019.

The Valentine’s circle goes beyond sweethearts and spouses though.

“The share spent on most other recipients has gone up over the past decade, with the amount spent on co-workers, for example, more than doubling to 7% of the total from 3%,” the organization said.

Dogs, cats, finned and feathered friends also benefit. Valentine’s spending on pets has also doubled, up to 6% from 3% in the same time period.

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