Dr Steve McCabe

Dr Steve McCabe

By Dr Steve McCabe – Birmingham City Business School

There is no doubt that St Valentine’s Day is good business. According to a survey carried out last year by the US-based Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA) the amount spend was £13.19 billion (just over £8 billion).

This study presents some fascinating statistics such as the fact that almost 200 million roses are produced for St. Valentine’s Day 73per cent of which are purchased by men. Given that the survey states that 14 per cent of roses are bought by women to send to themselves it begs the question as to the remaining 13 per cent?

The RAMA report suggests that a form of mass hysteria takes over on S. Valentine’s Day with just under 62 per cent of consumers celebrating. And woe betide any curmudgeonly man who forgets as, apparently, 53 per cent of women stated that they would end their relationship if their partner didn’t remember to get them something!

However, as we all know, St Valentine’s Day is specifically dedicated to the pursuit of love. Therefore, I guess, we should not be surprised that RAMA’s survey reports that the average number of children conceived on St Valentine’s Day is 11,000. It can only be presumed that Americans are less cautious than the British. Indeed, last year one national paper, The Guardian, provided advice on where to obtain cheap condoms – which can be bought as cheaply as 9p.

There is a kind of sadness to tales of that retailers like Marks and Spencer allowing women to return lingerie they received from amorous admirers/partners so that they can exchange it for underwear they consider more appropriate for everyday wear. I cannot imagine what the likes of more specialist retailers Ann Summers might be prepared to offer in exchange for their erotic lingerie!!

Once again in this country we will spend the best part of a billion pounds in expression of our undying love (and perhaps to avoid getting the heave ho!) As usual this will be spent on the usual things such as flowers, chocolates, romantic meals, perfume, jewellery, cuddly toys and romantic breaks. Hard-pressed specialist retailer Derbyshire-based Thorntons does well out of St Valentine’s Day and, apparently manufactures an additional 100 billion kilograms of its chocolate products.

There is also a notable spike in texts sent. Indeed, because we live in an age in which everything is done electronically it’s not surprising that web-based services will offer, at a cost, to send an appropriate message of undying love to your partner or possibly the person whose love you secretly covet!

A romantic meal for two is, of course, a traditional way to celebrate your love for one another though there is always the question of who pays. As we all know, for those willing to search the internet there are always good deals through vouchers. Given that last year in the couple of weeks up to St Valentine’s day an additional 150,000 restaurant vouchers were downloaded from VoucherCodes.co.uk – representing an increase of 300 per cent on the previous year – we should expect this trend to continue.

Finally when you look at the table of cities that spent most (and least) on St Valentine’s Day in 2013 some interesting observations emerge. Given that Sheffield at £63.03 was the city with greatest average expenditure closely followed by York at £62.67 means that Yorkshire should perhaps be seen as Britain’s most romantic county. It may be a cliché that the Scots are perceived to be ‘tight’ but this would appear to be borne out by the fact that last year on St Valentine’s Day Aberdeen had the lowest average expenditure of only £5.00. As a resident of Birmingham it is worth noting that average spending was £52.92. Interestingly, Coventry which is a city very close to Birmingham had an average spend of only £20.00.

To all those who are in love or, at the very least, have romantic intentions, I wish you a Happy St Valentine’s Day.

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Dr Steve McCabe

Dr Steve McCabe

Birmingham City Business School