Friday, August 1, 2014 · 8:23 p.m.

Area businesses prepare months in advance for Valentine's Day

Consumers expected to spend $18.6 billion on the holiday

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According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend $18.6 billion on Valentine's Day this year. The amount spent per person increased slightly over last year from $126.03 to $130.97, according to the federation's recent survey. (Photo: MGNOnline)

Valentine's Day is less than a week away. And whether Chattanoogans chose to celebrate all things lovey-dovey or decide to revolt against the commercialism and forced romance, the bottom line is that the holiday still means big business for some retailers. 

By the numbers 

$73.75: Amount consumers spend on their significant other

60.6: Percentage of people who plan to show appreciation to family members

 $26.46: Average amount spent on family members 

25.2: Percentage of people who will spend on friends 

$8.49: Average amount spent on friends 

13.2: Percentage of people who will buy for co-workers 

$5.12: Average amount spent on co-workers 

20: Percentage of people who will spend on pets

$815 million: Total amount consumers are expected to spend on pets 

$175.61: Average amount each male gift giver will spend

$88.78: Average amount each woman will spend

Source: National Retail Federation

"This is our busiest day by far," Amanda Cagle, floral assistant at Main Street's Chattanooga Florist, said. "This is the day that kind of makes or breaks the whole year financially." 

Cagle said she has worked in a lot of different businesses that get busy during certain holidays, but Valentine's Day turns the florist into something like a "war zone," she said.

"We come in at 6 a.m. and don't leave until midnight," she said. 

Typically, the florist has about seven employees, but that doubles during Valentine's, Cagle said. 

"We plan months ahead of time," she said. "It's months of planning and months of recovery."

According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend $18.6 billion on Valentine's Day this year. 

The amount spent per person increased slightly over last year from $126.03 to $130.97, according to the federation's recent survey. 

“Valentine’s Day remains one of the biggest gift giving holidays of the year, and although consumers will be conscientious with their spending, it’s great to see that millions of Americans are still looking forward to celebrating with their loved ones,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a prepared statement.

NRF leaders said consumers will indulge in a mix of traditional and nontraditional items this year.

Fifty-one percent of people who give gifts will buy candy, spending a total of $1.6 billion.

Thirty-six percent will give flowers, for a total of $1.9 billion. 

Nearly 20 percent will give jewelry, spending more than $4.4 billion.

Others are likely to purchase clothing and gift cards, officials said. 

Caprie Johnson, manager of five Chattanooga-area Rite Aid stores, said the day before and Valentine's Day itself are the busiest for her employees.

Ride Aid employees begin preparing for the holiday after Christmas, and managers add extra cashiers. 

And it seems as though the gentlemen typically wait to buy presents at the last minute, so Rite Aid employees try to make shopping as easy as possible, doing things such as putting some balloons that are already blown up near the cards.

"If you do have to come in last-minute, we do have people that will assist you," she said. "We try to make it as convenient as possible." 

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