Retailers and their shareholders, smarting from a lackluster holiday season, will be looking to Valentine's Day as the next test of the...

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Retailers and their shareholders, smarting from a lackluster holiday season, will be looking to Valentine’s Day as the next test of the economy’s strength.

Estimates from the National Retail Federation may give even lovelorn investors some cheer. The group predicts U.S. consumers will spend $17.02 billion related to the Feb. 14 holiday, up 0.7 percent from $16.9 billion in 2007.

That’s an average of $122.98 each.

But the federation’s estimates may be hard to meet this year as consumers struggle with high gasoline and food prices and a weak housing market.

With inflation making even a box of candy more expensive, consumers may opt for just a kiss instead.