My thrifty Valentine: The thought counts even more this year
Americans plan to spend about 20 percent less on Valentine’s Day than in 2008.
Alas, even Cupid is feeling the affects of the recession.Skip to next paragraph
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This Valentine’s Day, the nation’s lovebirds – squeezed like everyone else – are getting creative, choosing foot massages and chocolate fondue at home over a dozen roses and a high-priced dinner out.
Others have turned the traditional adult night out into a family affair, baking heart-shaped cakes and celebrating what they see as the real meaning of the holiday.
In short, this year is more like Valentine’s on a dime, as Americans plan to spend about 20 percent less than last year, according to the National Retail Federation.
Its annual Valentine’s survey found the same number of people who spent money on flowers and chocolate last year plan on doing so by Saturday, but they’re just not going to spend quite as much.
“You’ll find a lot less money being spent on high-end gifts – like jewelry and cars – but candy and flowers, and maybe teddy bears, won’t be affected that much,” says Dennis Jacobe, chief economist at the Gallup Organization. “That’s because of the trade-down effect: You have both the traditional people who are buying those gifts and then those who are” also buying them instead of more expensive ones.
But Corinne Van Plaar has decided to forgo even the flowers and chocolates. She’s spending Valentine’s at home with her two kids, in part because of the recession. She still has a job at Dudley’s Paw, a pet shop on Greenwich Street in New York. But she and her children know several people who’ve recently become unemployed. That’s given her kids a new understanding.
“They’re really grateful for having a roof over their head, heat, and having food on the table,” says Ms. Van Plaar. And so she’s using this Valentine’s Day to remind them of what love is really about. “It’s basically about being together and telling each other that you really care and love each other,” she says. "I’m baking a heart-shaped cake for my kids, and we’re just going to tell each other we love each other – real simple.”
Trading romance for fun
Shawn Ward from Milton, Mass., and his wife have also decided to make Valentine’s a family affair. They usually hire a baby sitter and go out for a romantic dinner. Instead, they’re making it a “fun day instead,” although he wanted to keep the details a secret until Saturday so as not to ruin the surprise.
“This is the first Valentine’s Day we’re doing it all as a family,” he says. “We’re not paying a baby sitter, we’re not doing anything elaborate. It wasn’t intentional, but I guess it is recession-related. We’re being careful.”
But for others, even in a recession, “a rose is rose is a rose,” to quote the poet Gertrude Stein. And florists around the nation say sales are still good, if not great. Thirty-five percent of Americans say they intend to buy their loved ones flowers, about the same percent as last year.
Flower sales robust
At Flora Tech, a storefront flower shop in the trendy Tribeca district of New York, the glass-fronted refrigerators are packed with a rainbow array of specialty cut flowers, but what stands out are the dozens of luscious deep red roses. Sales have been brisk, but the dollar amount rung up for each one is a little bit less than last year.