As local residents scurry to find the perfect Valentine's Day gift for that special someone, people all over the country are doing just the same thing. In fact, of the 60 percent of people who will celebrate Valentine's Day this year, 51 percent will give candy, 36.6 percent will buy flowers and 19.7 percent will purchase jewelry, according to the National Retail Federation. The average consumer is expected to spend about $130 in gifts for their Valentine.
The National Retail Federation estimated total Valentine's Day spending on cards and gifts this year at $18.6 billion - with consumers spending $10.5 billion on a significant other, almost $3.8 billion on gifts for other family members and even $815 million on pets.
Traci Manning of the Hy-Vee Floral Department, said she's seen a brisk business as Valentine's Day approaches.
Traci Manning of the Hy-Vee Floral Department, wraps a Valentine’s Day bouquet.
"It's been pretty busy, but that's what I and everyone else expects during this time of year," Manning said. "'Tis the season."
Manning said bouquets of a dozen roses in a vase are popular this year. But added that many other options are available to those wanting to send a unique gift.
"We're selling tumbler glasses that say 'love' or something similar, or 'boys rule' or 'girls rule' on them," she said. The glasses can be arranged with different items inside.
The store also offers a new line of balloons and stuffed animals with sayings in Spanish printed on the front. For those with a sweet tooth, candy boxes with balloon bouquets attached or sundae glasses filled with candy are also very popular.
Every Blooming Thing Manager Sherry Anderson is expecting a busy day on Thursday. She said she had between 100 and 150 orders placed as of Tuesday. She said she expected that many people would stop in Wednesday to select something for their Valentine, but was impressed with the early orders.
"I've been impressed," she said. "The guys have been doing really well this year, planning ahead for Valentine's Day."
Anderson said she had partnered with Gilbert Jewelers to provide a fresh bouquet when customers made a jewelry purchase.
"That way people can give jewelry and flowers to their Valentine," said Jeana Gilbert McBride of Gilbert Jewelers. She said jewelry is always a popular gift and this year is no different.
"Heart necklaces are probably the No. 1 piece people ask for," she said. Other items are sideways necklaces, also known as east to west necklaces.
Diamonds continue to be a girl's best friend, she said, and rose gold jewelry offers stylish options.
McBride said many of her customers will wait until Valentine's Day to make their purchases.
"Thursday will be a busy day for us," she said.
McBride said she and her staff could come up with gift ideas to suit just about every budget.
Heart-felt greeting cards also remain an integral part of Valentine's Day. Postal carriers will deliver millions across the nation as friends and family reach out to each other. According to the Greeting Card Association, teachers receive the most Valentine's Day cards, followed by children, mothers, wives, and then, sweethearts. Children between ages 6 and 10 exchange more than 650 million Valentine's cards with teachers, classmates and family members.