For some, the highly romanticized holiday of Valentine’s Day is warmly anticipated as a day to celebrate the love shared with their romantic partners, and for others (i.e. single people), it can be a dreaded day that reminds them just how alone they are. Whatever a person’s situation, Valentine’s Day has become associated with a number of consumerist tendencies. Money is spent on greeting cards, flowers, chocolates, jewelry, apparel, stuffed animals, fancy restaurant dinners, and more.

According to the Valentine’s Day Consumer Spending Survey published by the National Retail Federation (NRF), which has been tracking Valentine’s Day spending since 2010, it is anticipated that this year’s total U.S. spending for the occasion will be at a survey high, with a whopping $18.9 billion.

But there’s another thing people might be spending money on that is not listed in the NRF’s survey: getting divorced. It is no secret in the world of law that February is a very active month for divorce, a now consistent time of year for divorce rates to see a spike, particularly around the Valentine’s Day holiday. It is a phenomenon that has come to be known as the “Valentine’s Effect,” dubbed by Forbes and lawyers from LegalMatch, a San Francisco-based online legal attorney/client matching service.

Studies from legal referral website have found that in February, divorce filings rise about 18% from the average month, and that divorce lawyer referrals are sought on average 38% more. Seattle-based legal website has discovered a 40% increase in people looking for information on divorce just after Valentine’s Day. The reasons behind this trend are speculated to have something to do with being just after the holiday season. Whether or not this is true, the correlation is there.

So, here’s something for all the single people on Valentine’s Day to feel better about. Perhaps you’re not in a relationship with someone who’s going to smother you with gifts come February 14th, but at least you’ll be saving yourself a pretty penny. The average spending per person for Valentine’s Day gifts this year is about $142. And the average cost of divorce? About $15,000.

In fact, there has been a rise in the anti-Valentine’s Day movement over the past several years from single people, non-single people, and even retailers specializing in anti-Valentine’s gifts. For those who maintain February 14th as a day simply for making greeting card companies rich, there is always Single’s Awareness Day on February 15th.

If you’re not planning on celebrating with a significant other (human, that is), you will not be alone. The NRF anticipates that $703 million will be spent on gifts for pets this Valentine’s Day.


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