Valentine's Day gets more fun as it gets less romantic

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alentine's Day is upon us and before I rush out to buy more frivolous trinkets for my kids and husband, I thought I'd take a look at some holiday trends. I think my research shows Valentine's Day is actually improving as a national holiday. First, here are some factoids to digest:

* The National Retail Federation estimates that spending on Valentine's this year willl reach $17 billion. For flower sellers, this holiday accounts for about 30% of their business, their biggest holiday. For greeting card makers, it is second only to Christmas. For restaurants, it is the second biggest night for dining out after Mother's Day.

* The average person is expected to spend $123 on Valentine's Day cards and gifts this year, based on surveys. That's roughly flat with last year.

* Men say they will spend twice as much as women, but I don't believe it for a second.

* I also think total spending could surprise to the upside this year. The expectation is that consumers will trim spending due to the slower economy. But the latest economic reports showed a rebound in consumer spending in January. And Valentine's Day has some serious momentum behind it for increased spending: Total spending per person is up 20% from 2004 and 2005 when it was around $100 and up 50% from 2003 and 2001 when it was more like $80.