The Good, the Bad & the Ugly of Valentine’s Day Business

The theme to the Love Boat can almost be heard as Valentine’s Day approaches (at least for those of us not millennials). Yet it’s more like a Love Titanic because of the amount consumers will spend to prove their hearts to significant others (and often not spend).

It’s the good, the bad and the ugly of Valentine’s Day business, and feel free to rearrange the titles of each section.


The Good

According to the latest survey from the National Retail Federation, Americans plan to spend a heart-stopping $18.9 billion in 2015—an amount more than all previous years. The average person celebrating the holiday will spend a bit more than $142.

Here is the survey’s breakdown, and it might be wise to take a shot of insulin before reading:

–  53% plan to buy candy ($1.7 billion in sales).
–  21% plan to buy jewelry ($4.8 billion in sales).
–  37% plan to buy flowers ($2.1 billion in sales).
–  35% plan on a special night out ($3.6 billion in sales, spending an average of $87.94 on Valentine’s Day).

Add to that $2 billion spending on clothing and $1.5 billion spending on gift cards, and it’s a wonder the national anthem isn’t a mashup of Lionel Richie’s Hello and Pink Floyd’s Money.



The Bad

The heart wants what the heart wants, and it’s not all humans, it seems. A howling $815 million will be spent on pets. This does not mean only Fido and Felix will get heart-shaped treats, however. An article in the USA Today quotes the American Pet Products Association saying “pet owners have treated even fish, horses and ‘small animals’ to Valentine’s Day gifts.”

The article furthermore states how American businesses are reacting to this peculiarity:

“Seizing the opportunity to capitalize on these love-struck consumers, pet retailers, manufacturers and shelters have rolled out myriad Valentine’s Day-themed promotions that tout everything from adoptions to “be mine”-logoed dog clothing to heart-shaped dog treats.”

In the end, it might be all for naught, as one animal expert in the piece soberly states: “The reality is that your pets don’t know its Valentine’s Day. You’re not going to get grief if you don’t come home with anything.”

For some reason it’s doubtful this would be the case with a spouse…



The Ugly

Perhaps these somber statistics might put on the love breaks, taken from an article in Money Magazine:

–  25% of men spend because they feel obligated or are just trying to get lucky.
–  25% of women buy Valentine’s Day gifts for themselves.
–  200% is the amount increase in the price of roses during the holiday.
–  25% the drop of spending amount from a fiancée to a wife.
–  50% of couples prepare a month ahead for Valentine’s Day, dropping to 33% once they have been together five years or more.

Moreover, there is even a Hating Valentine’s Day movement, for those of you weary of the commercialization of romance (or just finding yourself in the “single” category yet another darn holiday). Useful hashtags for this solidarity of loneliness on Twitter: #AntiValentinesDay, #foreveralone and #singlelife.


The idea that love should be business is not as cynical as it may sound. In his book Conscious Love, Richard Smoley proposes that love has always been commerce from ancient times. Even with the end of arranged marriages to ensure financial security, there has never been such a notion as unconditional love between couples. After all, two individuals uniting in love usually exchange certain conditions to remaining together: fidelity, kindness, friendship, etc. If these conditions (or “payments”) are compromised, a marriage or relationship could well go bankrupt.

As Oscar Wilde said: “Romance should never begin with sentiment. It should begin with science and end with a settlement.”

This might be all academic, though, as nothing is going to stop the Love Titanic in its ecstasy of gold on this Valentine’s Day—not even an iceberg of ungrateful pets, unlucky men on Twitter, or women home alone eating chocolates from heart-shaped boxes.

Valentine's Day Infographic

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