A cash-conscious majority of Australians are expected to give Valentine’s Day a miss this year but hopeless romantics plan to celebrate by spending up big, splurging $130 on their loved ones.
Almost two-thirds – 65 per cent – of Australians in a relationship have no plans to celebrate this Valentine’s Day to save on costs, according to Finder research.
A Suncorp survey revealed that men are generally more romantic, with women more likely to dismiss the annual event as “outdated”. Men also spend about $70 more on gifts ($160) than women ($93).
The research found that Australians spend an average of $127 towards Valentine’s Day – be it on dinner, accommodation, flowers, chocolates or other gifts.
But the older the couple, the less money they spent on Valentine’s Day – $34 among 50 to 64-year-olds compared to $86 in the 16 to 34-year-old age group.
Comparison website Finder contrasted prices for flower bouquets and champagne at a variety of retailers in the lead-up to Valentine’s Day to determine whether some consumers may be getting ripped off.
The analysis found that the cost of a dozen red roses displayed in a presentation box can be more than double the price depending on where they’re purchased.
Prices ranged from $59.95 to $199.95, which meant up to $140 could be saved by simply shopping around before making a purchase.
Champagne prices varied by as much as 33 per cent with a 750ml bottle of Moet & Chandon priced from $48.95 to $64.99.
Finder’s money expert Bessie Hassan said ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day on a budget include exchanging homemade gifts, watching a movie or TV show together at home, making a romantic dinner for two, and not overspending on a significant other too early in the relationship.
The latest Commonwealth Bank spending data showed that its customers spent more than $23 million on Valentine’s Day last year, a 15 per cent rise in spending on 2016.
Couples spent $13.6 million on dinner, $7 million on drinks and $3.2 million on flowers – a 60 per cent increase in spending compared with an average Wednesday in February.
Florists alone experienced a 500 per cent surge in sales on Valentine’s Day.
Australians spent almost double on a bouquet ($61) compared to dinner ($32), with millennials accounting for 38 per cent of the overall florist spend.
Men were the largest spenders of the day, having bought 83 per cent of all Valentine’s flowers and footing 70 per cent of restaurant bills.
However, IBISWorld senior industry analyst Nathan Cloutman told The New Daily that Valentine’s Day spending is expected to be lower than last year due to “weak discretionary incomes and volatile consumer sentiment” which is causing some consumers to scale back on spending.
Consumer behaviour expert Dr Francine Garlin, of Western Sydney University’s Business School, said emotional reasons for spending are “incredibly compelling”, even when wages have stagnated.
“If someone believes they can make their partner happy on the occasion based on past experience, then they’re more likely to engage in that kind of behaviour,” she said.
“Compared to Europe and even America, Australia has a very indulgent culture and Valentine’s Day is a cultural ritual.
“But consumers are much more educated these days and sensitive to being marketed to. They’re much more sceptical and cynical.”
Avoid falling for a scammer this Valentine’s Day
The consumer watchdog has warned Australians to be wary of being preyed upon by dating and romance scammers online this Valentine’s Day.
Last year Australians reported losses of $20.5 million to Scamwatch from dating scams with more than 3700 reports, with women losing almost twice as much money as men.
“Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and while it’s a happy day for many, for some it can be quite lonely and isolating,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) deputy chair Delia Rickard said.
The ACCC said warning signs included someone professing strong feelings early on, refusing to meet in person, or asking for money.