Retail Sales

Forget Valentine's Day, we buy chocolate all year

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Valentine's Day is known for flowers and chocolates. It turns out though that neither of these symbols of love see their yearly peak in February. While spending for both does jump in this season, it actually tops out later in the year.

Specifically, spending for our chocoholism is so consistent that for as much as we think we buy a lot for Valentine's Day, we're buying almost as much all year long.

That's according to data provided to CNBC by 1010data, a leading big data analytics firm whose e-commerce platform tracks the online shopping habits of more than 5 million people.

This chart shows how purchases of flowers and chocolates compare to total online spending, giving a sense for the relative popularity of the two gift choices.

Flower spending is much more volatile, spiking only for Valentine's Day mostly, and then even more so for Mother's Day.

"While flowers end up being a traditional gift for mothers with few substitutes, Valentine's Day shoppers have a wider selection of gift options for their significant other, including teddy bears, jewelry and experiential gifts," said Natalie Seidman, vice president of online insights and data partnerships at 1010data. "Valentine's Day shoppers are socially limited to the traditional dozen red roses. Mother's Day shoppers have a broad range of applications for floral gift purchases, such as fresh cut flowers, garden plants and house plants."

Valentine's Day spending
Valentine's Day spending

Chocolates, on the other hand, have a more consistent profile. Other than two peaks at Halloween and Christmas, major candy holidays like Valentine's and Easter barely budge above normal spending. The ratio of chocolate spending stays similarly flat all year—suggesting that our natural addiction to the confection drives sales more than any holiday. We don't need an occasion as an "excuse" to buy chocolates.

As for the more addictive sugary treats, Seidman said: "Whether it's chocolate Easter eggs, romantic boxed truffles, or simply a sign of appreciation to a loved one, chocolate's versatility makes it one of the most popular gifts for American shoppers."

Or a gift to ourselves all year long.