Each holiday, the National Retail Federation is kind enough to tell consumers exactly what that day's merriment will cost them.
Today is Valentine's Day (yes, it is too late). And despite a struggling economy, the federation's surveys predict Americans will spend an average $126.03, "up 8.5 percent over last year's $116.21 and the highest in the survey's 10-year history."
Total spending on the day is expected to reach $17.6 billion, larger than the entire economies of Laos, Tajikistan and 90 other countries.
Chocolates and flowers are gigantic on the day, of course. Highlights from the survey show you'll spend an average $168.74 on clothing, jewelry, greeting cards and more this year -- if you're an "average male." Women will spend $85.76 on average, or about half the "average male."
-19 percent will buy jewelry, the highest percent in the survey's history. That works out to $4.1 billion, $600 million more than last year.
-13.3 percent will hand their beloved a gift card, up from 12.6 percent last year. Very smooth.
While it's all great fun, we feel the need to go Calvin Coolidge for a moment and remind you that your disposable income -- the money you can afford to throw around -- hasn't yet rebounded from the Great Recession.
We'll be showing this chart later to loved ones. We're sure they'll understand that we did not forget Valentine's Day but are simply waiting until real per capita disposable income rebounds. Yeah.
I keep hearing about this "struggling economy" and yes, it is for many. But then I go out and regularly see packed stores, packed restaurants (and not Olive Garden types, but fancier establishments where you can easily drop $100 on dinner for two). What am I missing here?
Maybe being short of cash since 2008 has taught us that "All you need is love, sweet love. Love is all you need!"