Oh No, People Can't Afford Stupid Crap This Valentine's Day

Yesterday I passed by a Godiva store in midtown Manhattan and saw that it was packed with frustrated looking men in suits lined up to the door. It reminded me of how manufactured this particular holiday is. After all, these men hadn’t all shown up at the same store, on the same day and for the exact same reason, spontaneously; it took years and years of conditioning. But is there room in the new Poor America for the sort of spendy nonsense that Valentine’s Day demands? The New York Times takes a look at how people are cutting costs, and ignoring mass-marketed fauxmance for cheaper and more personalized experiences.

Most of the examples in the Times article are anecdotal, and focus on people facing reduced budgets due to layoffs or salary freezes, but they also cite some actual numbers, like how “diamond jewelry sales are down 20 percent to 30 percent.”

Last year, consumers spent an average of $122.98 on Valentine’s Day gifts and merchandise, up from $80 in 2003, according to the National Retail Federation. With men, Professor Close said, “a lot of it had to do with the whole one-upmanship.” This year, however, the average expense is expected to drop 17 percent, to $102.50 this year, the federation said.

Maybe, for the next year or so at least, demonstrating your love frugally will be considered more attractive than blowing a wad of badly-needed cash on store-bought trinkets.

“Days of Wine and Roses Are Over This Valentine’s” [New York Times]
(Photo: Axel Bührmann)