On Valentine's Day, here's how much we're willing to spend for love

Anne-Marcelle Ngabirano
ABC's Happy Days. 'Be my Valentine' episode with Donny Most, Ron Howard and Anson Williams.
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The cost of showing your love is going up.

Valentine's gift givers are spending about 8% more compared to 2016 on commonly purchased items, according to the Cost of Loving Index.

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The index, compiled by investment advisory firm Houston Asset Management, has tracked the prices of nine popular Valentine's Daygifts since 1990 and is a play on the cost of living index.

A dozen long-stemmed roses will set you or your sweetie back as much as $140, or up 8.4% from last year, while that greeting card that spells out your affection will cost about $5.25, a more than 16% jump. Taking your significant other out to a movie for the evening is up about 8.2%.

Rising prices may be the reason spending this year is projected to fall for the first time in a decade, according to an annual survey released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

Total U.S. spending on Valentine's Day is predicted to reach $18.2 billion this year, down 7.6% from $19.7 billion in 2016. The average consumer is expected to spend $136.57 on holiday merchandise and services, down 96 cents from 2016.

The overall decline in holiday spending is attributed, in part, to a drop in the number of shoppers participating in the special day. The NRF says about 54% of consumers are anticipated to make Valentine's Day purchases this year, down from nearly 55% in 2016.

Before you splurge on Valentine's Day, consider this
Before you splurge on Valentine's Day, consider this

So why are lovers' wallets being stretched? The price increase in roses is partly due to broader industry factors. As traditional flower retailers go out of business, those left behind have been raising prices to make up for revenue pressures due to competition from online sellers. Greeting cards, meanwhile, have risen in price due to an increase in the cost of paper, according to IBISWorld. And those movie tickets are more expensive due to normal price increases combined with some theaters inching up prices to compete with the growing "Netflix and chill" culture.

The good news? If the object of your affection likes chocolate, you're in luck. The cost of a box of chocolates is the same as last year. And there are ways to cut costs. Some sleuthing can uncover a dozen roses for around $20, cards for a dollar or two and there's often discount movies in many areas.

But the decrease in Valentine's spending doesn't necessarily mean a loss in romance. In fact, according to a SunTrust/Harris poll survey, more Americans value financial stability in a partner than looks and physical fitness by a margin of 20%.That may be a good sign for lovers looking for a low-cost way to express their feelings.

This piece originally appeared on USA Today.

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