Near-record spending expected this Valentine’s Day

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Wednesday is Valentine’s Day, and Cupid’s arrows aren’t cheap- customers are expected to spend a near record amount on their loved ones this holiday.

The National Retail Federation has been studying Valentine’s Day since 2004, and this year, Americans are expected to spend $19.6 billion. This year will only be trumped by spending in 2016, when Americans spent $19.7 billion.

A little more than half of Americans are expected to buy something for Valentine’s Day this year, and most will gift candy, greeting cards, flowers, and an evening out. Six in 10 people aged 18-34 say that they would want to receive a gift of experience, such as a night out. Four in 10 plan on giving one.

Despite the near-record spending, however, there is a Valentine’s Day dilemma this year. The holiday falls on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent, and a date is significant for many Christians, particularly Catholics.

Catholics are expected to fast for much of the day (only eating one large meal and two smaller meals), and abstain from eating meat.