Valentine’s Day spending expected to rise

Story by Alexandra Smith

Green should be the official color for Valentine’s Day 2011. After laying low for the last two years, couples are once again saying, “I love you” with expensive flowers, candy, and dinner.

Dollar Heart. Photo by Alexandra Smith

According to the National Retail Foundation’s (NRF) 2011 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, consumers are expected to spend $15.7 billion expressing their love on Valentine’s Day.

The average person is expected to spend $116.21 on traditional Valentine’s Day merchandise this year, an increase of 11 percent over last year’s $103.00.

Chris Ludeau, a second year law student at Louisiana State University, has strong feelings toward the heart shaped holiday.

“Valentine’s Day is the most over commercialized holiday out there,” he said. “It’s gone from a holiday to show appreciation for a loved one to a test of how much you can buy for your girlfriend.”

Lindsay Roberie, a senior at LSU, also believes that February 14 has little to do with love.

“Everyone makes such a big deal about it, causing the single people to get upset, when really there is nothing even special about the day,” she said. “I think it was set up to be more of a money making holiday by florists than anything else.”

“Valentine’s Day is by far our biggest holiday,” agreed David Heroman, the original manager of Billy Heroman’s Flowerland in Baton Rouge. “People tend to feel special when they receive flowers.”

Heroman is also expecting this year to be more successful than last year. Since the holiday falls on a Monday he is expecting a lot of deliveries.

“Last year it was on a Sunday and it was terrible,” Heroman recalled. “The Saints had just won the Super Bowl, it was close to Mardi Gras, and no one was really bothering with flowers.”

Florists are not the only ones who benefit from Valentine’s Day falling on a weekday. Restaurants are expecting a boost in weekday business as well.

“I think this year will be big,” said Jes Deville, a waitress at Sullivan’s Steakhouse in Baton Rouge. “We already have so many reservations, it wont be long until we are will completely booked.”

Since many couples may not be able to celebrate the holiday on the actual date, Sullivan’s Steakhouse, like many other restaurants, is setting up a special Valentine’s Day menu that starts on the weekend leading up to that Monday.

“February 11 through the 14th we are offering an $89 three-course dinner for two,” Deville said. “We want our customers to enjoy the night with their loved one and what better way is there than going out to dinner and not having to worry about dirty dishes?”

Regardless of Ludeau and Roberie’s opinions, they still plan to celebrate the day with their loved ones.

No dirty dishes sounds good enough, but are the flowers really that important?

Love has a gender

Either some men really like to outdo their significant other or they just do not understand the phrase “it’s the thought that counts.”

According to the NRF’s survey, men will spend more than twice as much on gifts as women. On average, men will spend $158.71, while women are expected to spend $75.79.

“Last year I gave my girlfriend flowers, candy, and a card,” said Ludeau. “I’m going to do the same this year, but I also plan on taking her to dinner and a movie.”

Multi-colored roses from Billy Heroman's Flowerland. Photo by Alexandra Smith

Taking into account the price of flowers, candy, a card, dinner, and a movie, Ludeau said he estimates he will spend about $130, while his girlfriend spends close to nothing.

“She usually just gives me a hug and a kiss, and maybe some candy,” he said. “I think this day is more for the women.”

Heroman agrees.

“Men purchase 90 percent of the flowers bought on Valentine’s Day,” he said. “I think Valentine’s Day is a good excuse to let someone know you are interested in dating them.”

Not all women are interested in only receiving gifts. Roberie said she gives her boyfriend candy, a card and something extra, like a movie.

“I usually get flowers, candy, a card and taken out to a dinner and movie,” she said. “I know roses can be expensive so I tell him to just surprise me with anything.”

According to Heroman, roses are not the only kind of flower that is sold on Valentine’s Day.

“People are getting creative and sending different types, it is especially popular among the college crowd,” Heroman said.

Popular flowers to send on Valentine’s Day are:

  • Tulips: usually in white, red, or pink
  • Gerbera Daisies: in any color
  • Orchids: Dendrobium or Cymbidium
  • Lillies
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