Newswise — COLLEGE STATION -- Despite the explosion of red and pink merchandise currently promoted in stores, the National Retail Federation reports U.S. consumer spending will be down 10 percent this year compared to Valentine’s Day 2016. This may be a natural correction after an almost steady increase since 2010, says Kelli Hollinger, director of Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School Center for Retailing Studies (CRS). Like Christmas spending, a bigger portion of purchases will be made online or via mobile devices, she notes.

“For some people, showing appreciation to others is daunting because it’s not their style or they fear rejection. Valentine’s Day provides a structured occasion to express affection,” says Hollinger. “Even if critics say Valentine’s Day is a marketing gimmick, gifts exchanged between friends, family, lovers or kids demonstrate gratitude or warm feelings for people who are special in your life. Meaningful relationships take nurturing, so don’t feel guilty about spreading kindness to those you love.”

HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOTAccording to Microsoft search engine, Bing, about half of all Americans plan to celebrate their beloved, plunking down an average of $146.84 (versus $136.57 last year), making Valentine’s Day the fourth largest annual spending holiday. Combining top category sellers like candy, greeting cards, an evening out, floral arrangements and jewelry, total purchases are expected to reach $18.2 billion.

Not surprisingly, men spend more than ladies.

For those who consider themselves single or without a partner, “romantic love” is only one of many different themes that will influence their purchases. Many singles opt to spend time with friends or family, or treat themselves to a bit of pampering.

ALL IN THE FAMILYThough a majority of dollars will still be spent on significant others, other parties who can expect a little spending admiration on Feb. 14 include:

• Family members (children or parents) - $26.59• Children’s classmates or teachers - $6.56• Friends, co-workers and pets less than $6.51

And of the $19.7 billion spent on Valentine’s Day gifts in 2016, $681 million went to pets, says the CRS.

LOVE IS ALL AROUNDFollowed by specialty stores (18 percent), florists (18 percent) and local/small businesses (15 percent), consumers will do a majority of their purchasing in-person at department and discount stores, but will also opt for discounts and promotions offered online-only. reports that “gifts of experience” are on the rise, including concert or sporting event tickets, gym memberships or outdoor adventures. Though, while 40 percent of consumers want to receive an experience gift, only 24 percent plan to give one.

THERE’S AN APP FOR THATWhile brick-and-mortar stores will continue to provide consumers opportunity and inventory to choose from in-person, the V-Day e-hunt is on the rise with 28 percent of shoppers discovering gifts online.

According to Criteo, who works alongside internet retailers, “36 percent of spenders used an app to buy chocolates, flowers or to make dinner reservations,” resulting in a rise of mobile purchases between Feb. 10-12, 2016.

Top search terms on desktop computers in 2016 include “Etsy” and “Flowers.” While jewelry is usually a considered purchase, not an impulse buy, says Hollinger, mobile shoppers frequently searched “jewelry” and “engagement rings” just before cupid’s holiday.