By JOSH SANCHEZ
The Union Democrat
How much will you spend on Valentine’s Day this year?
If you’re a man, about $158 and, if you’re a woman, about half that.
That’s according to the National Retail Federation’s 2011 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey.
The average outlay for all people purchasing traditional Valentine’s Day gifts is $116.21, up 11 percent from last year, the survey found.
Couples this year will spend an average of $68.98 on their significant other or spouse, up from $63.34 last year.
Where will consumers spend their money?
Discount stores will be the most popular shopping destinations, drawing in more than 63 percent of spending. Department stores (30.5 percent), specialty stores (19.4 percent) and online retailers (18.1 percent).
Candy and cards are big sellers.
Local florists, however, will capture 16.8 percent of dollars spent, and jewelry stores 9.5 percent, they survey found.
Some local merchants say they are seeing the predictions of a Valentine’s Day economic thaw play out already.
“It’s going to be a great season,” said Paul Coca, owner of Firefall Jewelers. “Two years before, we were in absolute distress. This year, we’re going up again.”
He said sales of lower-end jewelery, like hearts, have really taken off. Sale are up 20 percent over 2010.
Roberta Hampton, owner of Twain Harte Florist, is also hopeful.
“I’m an optimist or I wouldn’t be here,” she said. “I’m expecting this season to be good. I’m very thankful for the faithful customers. They’re the ones who’ve kept me going. I’m still continuing to put in orders for red roses.”
Trisha Peller, owner of Columbia Nursery and Florist, is optimistic not just about the cheerier economic climate. She’s also hopeful Valentine’s Day falling on a Monday, instead of Sunday, will bolster sales.
“Part of the glory is to send an arrangement to your girl. Girls at the office see it and so people get to grin and gloat. We are expecting a much better year,” she said.
Total holiday spending is expected to reach $15.7 billion nationally.
Even friends and family pets and will fare better this year.
The average person will spend $5.04 on their pets, up from $3.27 last year.
Consumers will also spend an average of $6.30 on friends, $4.97 on classmates and teachers, and $3.41 on co-workers.
“Having surpassed expectations during the holiday season, it seems consumers are not done spending on gifts, which bodes well for the economy,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Jewelry, candy and apparel sales should provide a nice boost for retailers during the typically slower months of January and February.”
The survey, conducted by BIGresearch, polled 8,913 consumers between Jan. 4 an 11. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percent.