The average person celebrating Valentine's Day will spend $126.03, the highest in the 10-year history of the Valentine's Day Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGinsight for the National Retail Federation (NRF). With an increase of 8.5 percent over last year, total spending on our "better halves" is expected to hit $17.6 billion. That's more spending in a single day than the GDP of nearly 100 nations, including Afghanistan, Uganda and Zambia.
"As one of the biggest gift-giving holidays of the year, it's encouraging that consumers are still exhibiting the desire to spend on discretionary gift items, a strong indication our economy continues to move in the right direction," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "Anticipating high foot traffic in the coming weeks, retailers have replenished their inventories and will entice eager shoppers with great deals on everything from special menu items at restaurants to clothing to flowers and, of course, chocolates."
PUTTING A PRICE ON THE ULTIMATE SOCIAL BOND
But while the commodity of love has been crystallized in the West on a single day of the year, love's true intrinsic value to society is not part of the economic system. In our fundamentally market-based economy, value is placed on goods and services. But love -- in the form of caring and emotional support -- is not part of this equation, though ultimately, it is the glue of society. From dyadic partnerships to family groups, from neighborly love to community bonding, from a love of country and ultimately a love of all mankind and nature, this emotion -- and all the ways it is manifested -- is critical to keeping society intact. Yet somehow it remains outside our economic life, only to pop up in dramatic fashion in the world of retail -- primarily on Valentine's Day, but also on Mother's Day, Father's Day, birthdays and funerals.
Reynard is a Justmeans staff writer for Sustainable Finance and Corporate Social Responsibility. A former media executive with 15 years experience in the private and non-profit sectors, Reynard is the co-founder of MomenTech, a New York-based experimental production studio that explores transnational progressivism, neo-nomadism, post-humanism and futurism. He is also author of the blog 13.7 Billion Years, covering cosmology, biodiversity, animal welfare, conservation and ethical consumption. He is currently developing the Underground Desert Living Unit (UDLU), a sustainable single-family dwelling envisioned as a potential adaptation response to the future loss of human habitat due to the effects of anthropogenic climate change. Reynard is also a contributing author of "Biomes and Ecosystems," a comprehensive reference encyclopedia of the Earth's key biological and geographic classifications, to be published by Salem Press in 2013.