Valentine’s Day is upon us and consumers are planning to splurge on their loved ones this year.

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2012 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, the average person celebrating the holiday will spend $126.03, up 8.5 percent over last year. Total spending is expected to reach $17.6 billion.

“We expect gifts to range from flowers to chocolates to apparel to jewelry and even nice dinners out,” said Kathy Grannis of the National Retail Federation. “This year men will spend twice as much as women. That may have to do with the fact that much of what men do typically buy for the women in their life is a little more expensive.”

More than eight in 10 will buy jewelry, up from 17.3 percent last year and the highest percent in the survey’s history. Total spending on jewelry is expected to reach $4.1 billion, up from $3.5 billion last year. Second to jewelry, more than $3.5 billion will be spent on a special evening out. Consumers also will spend $1.8 billion on flowers, $1.5 billion on candy, $1.4 billion on clothing and $1.1 billion on gift cards.

Discount stores are expected to see most of the traffic, one-third of shoppers will head to department stores and nearly one out of five will shop online. The survey also finds that many people will be turning to their smartphones and tablets to research and purchase gifts.

Why the increase in spending? “There’s definitely been a shift in consumer sentiment,” said Grannis. “We’re not out of the woods completely, but overall consumers are feeling a little more confident about their finances and the stability in their lives. That bodes well for retailers who sell discretionary gifts.”