Cupid’s Cash Cow

On Valentine’s Day, when sweethearts across the country are whispering, “How do I love you, let me count the ways,” many merchants will be counting their cash.

Many of the ways we express that love to each other is by presenting gifts and other symbols of affection that help to rank Valentine’s Day as one of the busiest, and most lucrative, holidays for some industries. The holiday supposedly began as a Christian observance commemorating the first Valentine, said to be a clergyman who was executed for secretly marrying couples in ancient Rome. Over the centuries, the custom of exchanging love messages evolved, and by the nineteenth century merchants were making money off the mushy sentiments. Esther Howland of Massachusetts is credited with selling the first mass-produced Valentine cards in 1840.

So just how much cash is Cupid responsible for generating? Here are some sweet numbers, just in from the most recent census.


Number of U.S. manufacturing establishments that produced chocolate and cocoa products in 2008, employing 38,369 people. California led the nation in the number of chocolate and cocoa manufacturing establishments, with146, followed by Pennsylvania, with 115.

Source: County Business Patterns: 2008

Number of U.S. establishments that manufactured nonchocolate confectionary products in 2008. These establishments employed 16,860 people. California led the nation in this category, with 47 establishments.

Source: County Business Patterns: 2008

$12.2 billion
Total value of shipments in 2008 for firms producing chocolate and cocoa products. Nonchocolate confectionery product manufacturing, meanwhile, was a $7.1 billion industry.

Source: 2008 Annual Survey of Manufacturers

Number of confectionery and nut stores in the United States in 2008.

Source: County Business Patterns

24.3 pounds
Per capita consumption of candy by Americans in 2009.

Source: Current Industrial Reports, Confectionery: 2009


$359 million
The combined wholesale value of domestically produced cut flowers in 2009 for all flower-producing operations with $100,000 or more in sales. Among states, California was the leading producer, alone accounting for about three-quarters of this amount ($269 million).

Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

$18 million
The combined wholesale value of domestically produced cut roses in 2009 for all operations with $100,000 or more in sales.

Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

The number of florists nationwide in 2008. These businesses employed 89,741 people.

Source: County Business Patterns


Number of jewelry stores in the United States in 2008. Jewelry stores offer engagement, wedding and other rings to lovers of all ages. In February 2010, these stores sold $2.4 billion in merchandise.

Source: County Business Patterns and Monthly Retail Trade and Food Services

The merchandise at these locations could well have been produced at one of the nation’s 1,644 jewelry manufacturing establishments.

Source: County Business Patterns


The number of dating service establishments nationwide as of 2007. These establishments, which include Internet dating services, employed 3,125 people and pulled in $927 million in revenue.

Source: 2007 Economic Census


About Smart Companies Thinking Bigger®

Kelly Scanlon is the owner and publisher of Thinking Bigger Business Media. She recently finished a term on the national board of directors of the National Association of Women Business Owners, and was the national chair from 2010-2011. An advocate for small business owners, Kelly sits on numerous boards and committees to advocate on behalf of small business owners. She has won several awards for her advocacy. Among them are the 2011 United Nations NGO Positive Peace Award on behalf of Kansas City area small business owners, the U.S. Small Business Administration's Region VII Women's Business Champion of the Year in 2009, and the Women in Business Advocate of the Year from the State of Kansas in 2006. In 2002, she won the SBA's Region VII Small Business Journalist of the Year Award (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas). Whatever your business stage—aspiring, startup, established, mature—Thinking Bigger Business Media has the resources you need to grow to the next level. We are a resource organization dedicated to providing the strategic, "how-to" information small business owners need to become more productive and more profitable. We also provide information that helps owners connect with resources within the business community that can help them grow. We deliver that information through a variety of media products and other channels easily accessible to business owners.
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