Valentine's Day is big business. Here are some eye-opening numbers, courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau:

  • There are 1,040 locations in America producing chocolate and cocoa products (as of 2001), employing 45,913 people. The state with the most such locations is California, which happens to be the home base of See's Candies, a business owned by Warren Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A, BRK.B). There are also, as of 2001, nearly 4,000 confectionery and nut stores in the U.S.

  • In 2002, Americans consumed 24 pounds of candy per capita. That's pretty impressive, when you think about it -- that's nearly half a pound of candy per week. (Still, it's down from 27 pounds in 1997.) The steep figure is good news for firms such as Hershey Foods (NYSE:HSY), but the downward trend may spell trouble.

  • If it seems like there's a florist on every block, there almost is. As of 2001, there were 23,870 florists in the U.S., employing more than 125,000 people. The wholesale value of domestically produced cut flowers in 2002 (for operations with $100,000 or more in sales) totaled $410 million, including $58 million for lilies and $56 million for roses. California produced about two-thirds of the total value.

  • As of 2001, there were nearly 30,000 jewelry stores in America and 2,168 jewelry-making businesses. Jewelry manufacturing was an $8.8 billion industry, which may explain why Tiffany (NYSE:TIF) shareholders have done a lot of smiling over the years.

  • There are some 2.3 million marriages that happen in the U.S. each year (more than 6,000 per day). About 123,000 of them take place in Nevada. The estimated U.S. median ages at which men and women first marry: 26.9 and 25.3, respectively. Over the past 30 years, these numbers have risen by about four years. About 52% and 56% of women and men, respectively, are over 15 and currently married.

If you're looking for a last-minute gift for your Valentine, consider giving our research report that features promising stocks for 2004.

Selena Maranjian owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway.