To me, Valentine’s Day is an odd quasi-holiday unlike other commonly celebrated holidays. It can be polarizing: a fun day of heart-shaped candy and flowers for some, and for others, a day wrought with anxiety they feel could make or break their relationship due to the overwhelming societal pressure. To begin, it seems history is a little vague on how exactly the holiday got its start. Some brief article-skimming revealed that there were more than a couple recognized Saint Valentines, as well as a mid-February pagan festival, and an apparent connection to Chaucer. Secondly, while most holidays have evolved over time (historically speaking), the way we individually celebrate Valentine’s Day changes dramatically as we age; from handing out cards to our elementary school classmates, to dimly-lit dinners at crowded restaurants with our significant others. Finally, there’s the theory believed by many that Valentine’s Day is a “Hallmark” or “greeting card” holiday, devoid of meaning and perpetuated by rampant consumerism and the marketing machine to sell giant teddy bears and boxes of chocolate.
No matter what your opinion of Valentine’s Day is, there’s no denying it’s impact on the economy. According to the National Retail Federation, total spending by those celebrating in 2019 was expected to reach a staggering $20.7 billion, 6 percent higher than last year and breaking the previous record of $19.7 billion set in 2016. Interestingly enough, while the average amount spent per person continues to trend upward, the percentage of the population celebrating February 14th continues to fall with only 51% projected to have been participating in the festivities this year. So, while less consumers are acknowledging the holiday, those who are, are individually spending more money year after year.
Another interesting twist comes from the way people choose to shop for gifts for their chosen valentines. While online retail is now a mainstay of the Christmas holiday season, it turns out consumers prefer brick and mortar department stores when purchasing Valentine’s Day gifts. Do we feel it warrants a more personal touch? Or, is this due to a panicked last-minute dash to the mall? However, where all that money is going though is no big surprise with $3.9 billion being spent on jewelry, followed closely by plans for an evening out, with around half of those celebrating purchasing candy and greeting cards. No wonder the “Hallmark holiday” conspiracy is alive and well.
Do you look forward to celebrating on the 14th, or discounted chocolate on the 15th?
– Perri Read – Junior Consultant