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Valentine's Day is the second-biggest card-giving day after Christmas.
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updated 2/12/2007 5:57:09 PM ET 2007-02-12T22:57:09

Cupid's arrow will cost consumers a little more this year. The average lovestruck consumer will spend nearly $120 on Valentine's Day this year, up from $101 last year.

In total, U.S. wooers will spend $16.9 billion on their sweethearts this year, according to the National Retail Federation's 2007 Valentine's Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by market research company BIGresearch.

The survey polled 7,703 consumers and found that 63 percent of them planned to celebrate Valentine's Day, most between the ages of 25 and 34. On average, men will spend $154 on their Valentines, nearly double the $85 the average female will spend on her sweetheart. The most popular gifts men plan to buy to say "Be Mine": flowers (58.3 percent), candy (42.9 percent) and jewelry (27.6 percent).

Valentine's Day is big business for some big companies. At gift retailer 1-800-Flowers.com, the holiday typically accounts for 10 percent of annual sales. In the days leading up to Feb. 14, 1-800-Flowers.com will fill more than 100,000 orders a day, up from 10,000 to 15,000 orders on an average day. Meanwhile, The Hershey Company estimates it sells 1.5 billion of those lip-smacking chocolate Kisses every Valentine's Day.

Roses are red and little boxes — the good kind, from Tiffany — are light blue. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, jewelers do about 7.8 percent of their year's sales in February, a big reason Tiffany last month rolled out a brand-new engagement ring called the Tiffany Novo. Starting price: $2,810.

Despite the rise of electronic greeting cards, the most popular gifts on Feb. 14 are traditional, paper-based greeting cards. BIGresearch estimates that nearly 63 percent of both men and women said they planned to spend the $3 on a Valentine's Day card, the second-biggest card-giving holiday of the year after Christmas, according to Hallmark, which offers more than 2,000 Valentine's Day greeting cards.

Passion — and a few extra bucks — are burning holes in the pockets of young adults aged 18 to 24, who will spend some $143 this holiday, up 74 percent from last year. Phil Rist, vice president of strategy at BIGresearch, says the increase is a product of two trends.

First, "echo boomers" (children of baby boomers) are getting to the age where they are seriously considering marriage. Second, last year's post-Katrina gas-price hike meant that young spenders with tighter budgets now have more wiggle room to splurge. "Last year, they may have been thinking pizza or a movie," he says.

Another trend: More couples, especially baby boomers, are spending their Valentine's Day budgets on an evening out: According to the survey, 39 percent of those aged 55 to 64 have planned a night out on the town for this year's Valentine's Day, up from 36.7 percent last year. (Meanwhile, spending on cards, flowers and candy fell.)

"I'm 50, so I fall into that group and I've got a lot of stuff," says Rist. "Give me an experience instead."

© 2012 Forbes.com

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