Money to be made on Valentines Day

Jewelers, florists, restaurants all benefit from heart-shaped holiday

Christine T. Nguyen—The North State Journal
Cathy Elmore adds cyclamen plants to a Valentine's Day display at Logan's Garden Shop on Feb. 9 in Raleigh.

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love and affection — and plenty of profit.The National Retail Federation says Americans will spend an average of $136.57 on plush bears, boxed chocolates, bouquets of roses, engagement rings and everything in between. In all, that’s $18.2 billion, which is actually down nearly 8 percent from the record $19.7 billion spent last Valentine’s Day.The majority of that money is spent on significant others ($85.21 average). Americans will spend $3.8 billion on an evening out, $2 billion on flowers, $1.9 billion on clothing, $1.7 billion on candy, $1.4 billion on gift cards and certificates, and $1 billion on greeting cards, the NRF said.No business benefits more from Valentine’s Day than those selling jewelry. The NRF estimates $4.3 billion — 23.6 percent of the holiday spending pie — will will be spent on rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces and more.While Christmas Eve is still the most popular day to get engaged, Valentine’s Day is a very close second, says Lane Schiffman of Schiffman’s Jewelers in Greensboro and Winston-Salem. “Valentine’s Day is a beautiful bright spot of gift giving in this quiet part of the winter. Lots of engagements this time of year!” Shiffman encourages his customers – mostly men at Valentine’s – to make their purchases individual and meaningful. “Our job is to make these fellows heroes. That’s what we try to do.”If you are looking at making things official this year, the average cost of an engagement ring in 2016 was $6,163, according to The Knot, an online resource for wedding planning. But there are different options at almost any price point, depending on diamond size, clarity, color, cut and setting. The bigger the diamond, the more you give up in the other areas — if you want to stay in your budget. If you choose a platinum setting instead of gold, you’ll also have to choose a lesser diamond.If you’re already married, you can explore other jewelry — diamond earrings, for example — or stick to the standard red roses and chocolates. Remember you get what you pay for: a high-end chocolatier and florist will probably go over better than a drug store heart and a supermarket bouquet. Men like chocolate, too, but you can also wow them with a new watch.Oftentimes, it’s best just to get your significant other something they won’t buy for themselves — the nice shoes they’ve had their eye on, or a home item they haven’t yet justified buying for themselves. And never underestimate the restorative quality of a quiet one-on-one meal without the kids.Even if you don’t spend $6,000 on an engagement ring, $100 on flowers and chocolates, or go out out to the fanciest restaurant in town, find a way to make all your loved ones feel special.