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Police in Canada cleared protesters from the Ambassador Bridge

The crossing had been blocked for six days by truckers demonstrating against covid mandates.

Semi trucks heading for the US from Canada
This story was published on our Quartz Daily Brief newsletter, The concise, conversational rundown you need to start your day.
  • Morgan Haefner
By Morgan Haefner

Deputy email editor


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Here’s what you need to know

Police in Canada cleared protesters from the Ambassador Bridge. The crossing had been blocked for six days by truckers demonstrating against covid mandates. But “freedom convoy” protests are spreading around the world.

Flights through Ukrainian airspace are being canceled and diverted. Fears of a possible Russian invasion are escalating, with global stocks falling and oil prices fluctuating.

A former Goldman Sachs banker goes on trial over the 1MDB scandal. Roger Ng appears in court in Brooklyn over his alleged role in looting Malaysia’s government fund.

The Los Angeles Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl. MVP Cooper Kupp scored a late touchdown to win the game 23-20, and deny the Bengals a first-ever victory.

The teenage skater who failed a drugs test is cleared to compete in Beijing. The Court for Arbitration for Sport took into account the “exceptional circumstances” of Kamila Valieva’s age—she’s only 15—but the matter is far from settled.

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What to watch for

US consumers are set to spend close to $24 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts this year, a 9.6% increase from last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Most people plan to buy V-day classics like chocolate, cards, and flowers. But they’ll be spending more, thanks in part to inflation. US prices have risen 7.5% in the last year.

A line graph showing valentines day spending by us consumers.

Experiential gifts like theater or concert tickets are also gaining popularity as people return to activities that were stymied by pandemic restrictions last year. The NRF expects Americans to spend $4.3 billion on “evening out” experiences, and restaurant reservation site OpenTable reported a 30% increase in reservations for Feb. 14 compared to last year.

Overall, the average US consumer is expected to spend $175.41 on gifts, up from $164.76 last year. While roses are traditional, orchid sales are booming in the US.

Hot for inflation

Americans aren’t just spending more on gifts. The US’s January inflation report shows that the economy has ironed out some pandemic disruptions—but is still very much mired in others.

For example, prices for rental cars, which skyrocketed in the spring and summer of 2021 as newly vaccinated consumers started to travel and cars got more expensive with semiconductor shortages, dropped by 7% in January after falling 2.7% a month before.

A chart showing how much prices for common goods in the US has changed since January 2020. Used vehicles and car and truck rentals have seen some of the steepest increases.

But some goods haven’t been so lucky. If you want to look spiffy for your Valentine, be prepared to spend a little bit more on the garb. Men’s suits are 13.6% more expensive than a year ago.

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