February 13, 2013
Danielle Lacey

Cashing in on Cupid

For a day meant to honor romantic love, Valentine's Day pays profitable homage to the love of money.

Flowers available for sell at the SLU Walter Knoll
Roses and other selections of flowers available for sale in the Walter Knoll Florist location in Busch Student Center.
Valentine's Day by the numbers
$175.61 Amount of money men are estimated to spend this Valentine's Day
$88.78 Amount of money women are estimated to spend this Valentine's Day
$73.75 Amount of money married couples are estimated to spend on each other
20 Percent of Americans planning to purchase a Valentine's item for their pet.
Source: "Cautious Consumers Keep Cupid At Bay This Year, According To NRF," NRF.com

Love is a big moneymaker for businesses and each Valentine's day, retailers around the country cash in. According to surveys done by the National Retail Federation, this year Americans are expected to spend an estimated $18.6 billion dollars on flowers, candy hearts and cards — more than 5 percent more than they did in 2012.

Has modern society rid us of any feeling of sentimentality or is opening our wallets simply how we as a society open our hearts? According to James Fisher, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing in the John Cook School of Business, it's a little of both.

"Gift giving is a ritual that is wound deep in many cultures," Fisher said. "Overlay that with our hyper-commercialized society and overlay that with our big marketing apparatus of advertising, store promotions and sales. It's the prefect storm for spending money."

The majority of shoppers will spend their money on candy, with more than $1.6 billion dollars in sales going toward sweets and confections. More than a third of Valentine's Day shoppers are expected to spend nearly $1.9 billion on flowers.

SLU's own Walter Knoll Florist location is expecting a big boon in business come Thursday.

"It's going to be very busy," said store manager Rebecca Bodicky. "I expect the line to be out the door. Walter Knolls' itself expects a 10 percent increase of sales combined from all the locations."

Flowers and candy may seem like the cliché Valentine's Day standby, but if those numbers are any indication, they may simply be a cultural tradition that's become ingrained in our society.

And perhaps the holiday isn't as devoid of personal sentimentality as some people believe it is. Only 15 percent of shoppers will spend their Valentine's money on gift certificates — a gift considered the least romantic of all options.

"You don't want to disappoint someone's expectation," Fisher added. "Expectations powerfully influence our behavior. We don't want to disappoint, especially someone we have a lot of affection for."

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