Feb 122006
Authors: Jake Blumberg

Valentine's Day is many things: loving, caring, depressing and of course, red and pink.

Above all, Valentine's Day is expensive. I love to celebrate love, but come on. Spending all this money on a Hallmark-created holiday is a bit much, isn't it? I always thought that way until I realized that our nation's economic fate relies on the success of Cupid's big day.

We – as a society and economy – cannot do without Valentine's Day; we have passed a point of no return, and like it or not, we will always have to celebrate the Super Bowl of Love or face the consequences of a nation-wide depression.

Preposterous you say? I have no facts to back up my argument, right? Oh how wrong you are.

The U.S. Census Bureau – whose main responsibility is to ask people questions about every topic known to man and then write a report about it – did a Valentine's Day census. It sounds strange that our government is paying people to do surveys about how many stuffed bears we buy in a given year, but they are. In fact, the results of this census have staggering implications for our economy, and – as scared as I am to say it – without Valentine's Day, we just might find ourselves in the midst of an economic depression.

According to the 2005 census, the three main sectors of Valentine's gifts – flowers, greeting cards and candies – account for more than 250,000 jobs in the United States (Obscure fact number one from the census: currently, there are nearly 100,000 people making chocolate for our nation to consume; that is a lot of bon bons, folks.)

Granted, these industries are not solely around for Valentine's Day, but to put the numbers further into perspective, the jewelry industry does more than 25 percent of its $8.6 billion yearly business in February.

In addition, the report states 65 percent of American households will buy at least one greeting card to celebrate the holiday. Using household numbers from the 2000 Census, that percentage equates to almost 178 million individuals who will buy a greeting card to celebrate Love Fest. If every card costs $1, which is certainly a low-ball estimate, greeting card purchases alone inject at least $178 million into the economy.

Limo services, restaurants – think candle-lit dinners with Steak Diane for two – and liquor stores have spikes in business from the holiday. These spikes would simply not take place without the day, preventing millions upon millions of dollars from going into the economy.

Victoria's Secret launched an expensive Valentine's Day advertising campaign featuring so many commercials that I cannot watch TV without seeing one (not that I am complaining). With all their advertising for heart-shaped thongs and lacy bras, Vicky's is throwing valuable advertising dollars into the economy that would not be spent without V-Day.

Add that to the money spent on flower arrangements – long stem roses for the classy guys and gals, carnations for us college students – along with other big-ticket gifts such as diamond-encrusted teddy bears, and we have a true boom in the economy.

The numbers above are just the tangible, hard statistics we can actually measure to understand the effects of the V-Day on the economy. Let's get a little creative and tease this out a few more levels.

Dentists certainly profit on some level from the holiday because that sugar certainly adds to the cavity supply and dentist demand. Veterinarians also probably get an increase from all the pets that accidentally ingest sweets in the weeks after the holiday. If the dentists and vets were not able to make their V-Day money, they could not pay for the luxuries that infuse more money into the economy; country clubs, car dealers and travel agents would all suffer without V-Day.

The U.S. economy is a gigantic lake that can be affected by even the smallest ripple. Behind Christmas, Valentine's Day is the largest consumer holiday of the year, an event alone can stimulate and affect the world's largest economy.

I have heard many people complain about how fake and materialistic Valentine's Day is, and I tend to agree; yet, in my mind, that is not negative because anything that stimulates our economy is a positive thing for everyone who participates in it. So, go out and buy something for your sweetie, your roommate or yourself because otherwise we may spin into an economic depression that may last all the way to the Fourth of July.

Jake Blumberg is a technical journalism and political science double major. His column runs every Monday in the "Collegian."

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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