Consumers to Spend $18 Billion on Sweethearts

small 998432371 150x150 Consumers to Spend $18 Billion on SweetheartsI love flowers, candy, jewelry, and everything else that makes Valentine’s Day a bright spot in a usually cold and dreary month. This year, however, I’m hoping my sweetheart will ditch the flowers and candy for a hitch for my vehicle so I can hit the bike trails after work.

My heart’s desire, however, is the exception, not the rule. Valentine’s Day is big business and for good reason: Total spending will reach $18.6 billion – that’s $130.97 per celebrant spent on candy, jewelry, gift cards, valentines and more, up from $126.03 in 2012, according to the National Retail Federation.

What’s new this year is the impact that online shopping and smartphones are having on how people shop for their loved ones. NRF notes that 26 percent of those celebrating the February holiday will shop online, up from 19.3 percent in 2012 – and the most in the survey’s 10-year history. And 40.7 percent smartphone owners will use their handhelds to shop for gifts, and 46.9 percent of tablet owners will use their devices to purchase items and research gift ideas.

Although shopping online is easy, it comes with inherent risks: Flowers that aren’t delivered or are totally different from the ones ordered; jewelry that don’t resemble the website’s description, scam artists impersonating respected businesses, phishing emails asking for your credit card information.

That’s why cupid is a big believer in always checking out a business – especially if it’s one you haven’t shopped with before – with BBB before handing over credit card numbers. Find out if the business has a physical address, a phone number for customer service and return policies (your wife will appreciate that you consider her a small in the size department).

Be especially wary of unsolicited offers or e-Valentines that pop up in your email account. Oftentimes they carry malware and/or viruses.

Will your Valentine’s Day spending match the national average?

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/pochacco20/99843237/”>pochacco20</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

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About Luanne Kadlub

Luanne Kadlub, communications editor for BBB Serving Northern Colorado and Wyoming, has been a writer/editor for newspapers, magazines and nonprofits for more than 30 years.