The Consumerism of Valentine's Day - with a plot twist!

Warning - this blog post is not going to go the way you think it will. 

I’ve always been pretty iffy on Valentine’s Day.  I never liked the rising expectations, the added pressure, the overpriced flowers, really any of it.  I also felt like it was this huge consumerism ploy that piled on pressure for lavish gifts for no reason. 

But now, being in Retail, I totally get it.

Let’s just use Without Co. as a microcosm for the entire retail industry for simplicity sake.  January sucks in retail, everyone knows it, and our shop is really no different.  And the decline feels a little bit more shocking because it butts right up against the best month of the year for sales. 

January comes along, and online store traffic drops by 50%, in store spending drops by 40%.  Average transaction volumes drop by 33%.  Each January I’m expecting it, and each January it still kind of shocks me.


As the winter gets colder, the days feel darker, and traffic lulls in all retail operations, we look to the horizon, the bright spot, the ‘this is slow, but just wait until X” spot.  And that spot, it’s V Day baby!

Because Canadian statistics are just so hard to come by, I'm using US numbers below.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans anticipated to spend $27 billion on Valentine's day in 2020, spending an average of $196 on the occasion.  This is almost $8 billion more than what was spent in 2016 - that kinda growth makes retailers drool.

The spending is spread amongst significant others, family, friends, pets (what in the world), coworkers (huh?) and even teachers.  No hate for the teachers, but I was shocked at that one. 

55% of Americans plan on celebrating Valentine’s Day in some fashion, and according to my recent IG polls, our followers are celebrating themselves big time this year! And I am here for it. 

What shocked me most in my research, is that only 50% of the average American’s spend went to their significant other.  Family members and friends make up more of that $27 billion than you would think at first glance.

Another shocking thing - out of the 55% of people who said they were celebrating V-day, 27% of those people said they were celebrating with their pets. Y’all, this shit is crazy.  Yes I have a dog, yes I love my dog, but no under no circumstance am I buying my dog a valentine.


What I pull out of the figures above is simple,

The marketing machine behind Valentine's Day is working.  Our spending is increasing year over year, and us little retailers need a little bump to get us through the winter. 

Taking off my ‘business owner hat’ - I still see a few positives for Valentine’s Day.  It’s a good excuse to show a little love to people in your life. Does it have to be on Feb 14th?  No, but it’s kind of convenient, and doesn’t have to be anything big. 

What I’m really loving these days - is the trend to celebrate yourself, to show yourself a little love.  I couldn’t find any stats on this, but from our polls, from my conversations with all of you in the shop, I know we are all planning to treat ourselves a little kinder on this day. And I think we all need it.

Whether it’s picking up a little something for yourself (or having it delivered!), making a fancier meal, or ordering take out, hitting the couch in your sweat suit (who doesn’t have one at this point…)  I think I’m turning the corner on Valentines Day.  I think I kind of like it.  And any communal experience is welcomed by me these days.  We’re all in this together after all.

Thanks for reading!

- Michelle

ps: find my source below.

https://nrf.com/insights/holiday-and-seasonal-trends/valentines-day


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  • Susan on

    Great blog! I learned a little something and it made me smile. Two nice outcomes👍🏼


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