Like Christmas, Valentines Day is a day when consumer's spending habits radically change. It started as a tradition from the Romans and was even considered Christian during the 5th century. Currently, it's a holiday where people show affection, compensation towards their partners and close friends. Whether it's through a clever gift, tons of chocolates or meaningful cards, you are expected to spend a lot for this holiday. Why is a holiday put at such a high standard to the point that it has become a norm? The answer is businesses and commercials.
US consumers have spent more than $19 billion dollars in 2016 on Valentine's Day, according to the National Retail Federation. The NRR also has calculated the estimated purchases consumers will make on this special occasion.
A Massachusetts entrepreneur, Esther A. Howland, in the 1840's used the holiday as a way to sell Valentines Day Cards to people who didn't have the time to make there own. While she did make a ton of money, this isn't when Valentines Day was recognized as a commercial holiday. In 1913, Hallmark Cards starting mass production for Valentines Day and was able to become the multi-billion-dollar industry that it is known today thanks to it. Their commercials somewhat made it an expectation for everyone to buy a card, even on other holidays like Mother's Day and Father's Day. Hallmark isn't the only company that turned Valentines Day into a huge commercial holiday. The Hershey Company, Necco and Victoria's Secret benefit tremendously from the sales made on Valentines Day and raising their stock's value.
My argument isn't that Valentines Day is pointless or you shouldn't purchase anything extraordinary for that special someone, I just think the holiday is extremely exploited by commercialization. For this occasion, we have so many promotions on products to buy, articles/websites telling us what to do for the holiday and what to buy for a partner. This makes the holiday have less meaning and rather a hassle for consumers, and certain businesses make a nice profit from that.
Luckily, society has started to realize that. The culture surrounding Valentines Day is evolving where you'll find people doing unexpected things for Valentines Day. Instead of gifts, which was an expectation of the past, special experiences like restaurants and adventures are becoming more popular for the occasion. Let's continue the trend and try breaking the consumer norm and be unique for Valentines Day.