The Premium You Pay On A Valentine Gift

By Annie Mueller | February 06, 2011 AAA

If you're in a relationship, you'd better be aware of the upcoming "relationship security day," more commonly referred to as Valentine's Day, the national holiday on which love is tested and proved via fancy cards and gifts. According to the National Retail Federation's annual Valentine's survey, the average consumer will spend just under $120 on Valentine's purchases this year. So which gifts will cost you the most this February 14? (For a related reading, see Be Mine, Frugal Valentine.)

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A Dozen Roses
Maybe you can't put a price tag on love, but every February we get to watch retailers attempt it. And those traditional gifts, our yearly love offerings, strangely seem to always cost more right around Valentine's Day. A dozen roses at almost any other time of year can cost you anywhere from $25 to $50, depending on your choice of florist, the type of roses and the part of the country (rural towns will often have cheaper prices than florists in large urban areas with more of a customer base).

But when Valentine's Day rolls around, expect to see the cost for that same dozen roses start at around $30 and go up from there. The reason? According to an article from Fox Business, the huge demand for roses on a single day out of the year means that rose producers have to increase volume dramatically, shipping has to occur in the same high volume, and retailers have to order ahead of time to meet the huge demand. All those factors add up to additional costs for the florists, who, in turn, pass the increased cost on to the customers. The cost increase is significant, up an average of $14.00. (For more, check out 6 Ways To Steal Her Heart - Without Breaking The Bank.)

Candy or Chocolate
Roses are just one example of how expensive Valentine's Day gifts can become, especially when compared to their normal prices. Candy, according to a Forbes article, is the second most popular Valentine's Day gift item; in 2010, almost 50% of Valentine's shoppers planned to purchase candy. That's a lot of conversation hearts floating around!

Of all the candy purchased, about 75% is some kind of chocolate. The price of those heart-shaped chocolates tends to follow same price as the dozen red roses: an increased demand dictates a higher price, either as retailers have to pay more to their suppliers or as they simply see the opportunity for some good, old-fashioned profit increase.

The 2011 Valentine's Day chocolate market could be even more of a price jump; troubling political conditions in West Africa, which supplies some 80% of the world's cocoa beans, means that the normal supply is threatened. A short supply and a big demand mean only one end result for consumers: a higher price.

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Dinner at a Restaurant
Another popular choice - dinner out - holds the same potential for price increases for consumers on Valentine's Day. Consumers are expected to shell out around $3.4 billion dollars on dining out as a Valentine's gift this year. Restaurants traditionally offer Valentine's specials, which are usually composed of course after course of rich foods which leave your stomach overly full and your wallet verging on empty. A Valentine's dinner out is likely to cost from $30 to $200 more than an average dinner out.

While the splurge may be worth it, if you're into fancy restaurants and sumptuous foods (after all, it's only one night out of the year), the savvy consumer will be aware that any meal eaten out on Valentine's Day will cost more than it would any other time for the same food. Increased demand and eager consumers result in higher prices; the only possible restaurant options that may maintain their standard prices are ethnic choices, which won't be as popular a choice as the traditional steak-lobster-chocolate soufflé Valentine's meal.

The Bottom Line
Does all the price raising mean you should forego Valentine's Day altogether and just make up for it afterward with a truck load of chocolates you purchased at the post-Valentine's sale price? Maybe so, if saving the money is worth the peace you'll lose. If peace in your relationship is worth the higher prices, just be aware you'll be paying dearly for it, and budget accordingly. Maybe you can't buy love, but in February nobody's sure about that anymore. (For more, check out The "New" Valentine's Day.)

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