Survey: People plan to spend less on Valentine’s Day because of inflation

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Tuesday is Valentine’s Day and that means a busy day for local flower shops. Fioravanti Florist on Clifford Avenue prepared bouquets for delivery.

However, things are going to be different for a lot of people. According to a new survey by Trust-Pilot, nearly half of Americans plan to put what would have been their Valentine’s Day spending toward living expenses. Inflation is hitting those who are exchanging gifts, with two-thirds of them planning to spend at least 10% less this year.

Here’s CNBC’s coverage of how much prices are rising for common Valentine’s Day purchases and how you can save:

Chocolates — 12 percent more expensive

Common romantic gestures such as buying chocolates or a Valentine’s Day card have suffered from inflation, according to data compiled by the personal finance site The Balance. The price of a chocolate candy bar rose to $2.60 in December, which roughly represents a 12% increase from the year before. 

Like many grocery store items, supply chain disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to higher chocolate prices in 2022. Droughts earlier in the year and a shortage of cocoa beans also caused chocolate production to fall behind demand. 

And if you’re used to including a sweet card or note with your gift, those supplies are a bit more costly this year, too. Stationery, stationery supplies, and gift wrap — a spending category that includes greeting cards — cost 16.4% more than last year, according to BLS data.

How you can save

One way to avoid overspending on gifts such as candy and cards is by ordering them online with the help of an online shopping portal or browser extension. These web tools give you access to exclusive discounts, cash back rewards, and promo codes, which can all help you save on your gift orders. Honey is a free browser extension that searches for the best deals on your online orders. It will automatically apply any available coupon or promo codes to your cart, saving you time and money. 

Another free extension, Rakuten, gets a commission when you purchase from one of their partnered stores, and splits part of it with you in the form of cash back. This way, you can earn some cash just for purchasing your Valentine’s Day gift.

Dinner date — 8 percent more expensive

A romantic dinner for two, the staple for many couples on Valentine’s Day, has also become pricier.

Restaurants are feeling the pinch of rising costs for ingredients and labor, causing some to raise their menu prices and pass the expenses onto customers. The overall cost of eating out in December was up by 8.2% over the past year, according to BLS data.  

However, one specialty item on your menu may actually be cheaper than last year. The cost of filet mignon has seen a nearly 20% decline since then, according to The Balance’s analysis of USDA Market News Retail data.

How you can save

When it’s time to settle the bill for dinner, use a card that offers rewards for categories such as dining out and entertainment. The no-annual-fee Citi Custom Cash℠ Card offers 5% cash back on your top monthly spending category, including dining, on up to $500 in purchases each month.

Plus, some credit cards, like the American Express® Gold Card, offer cardholders various discounts for purchases across different categories, like perfume, beauty, apparel and more. In other words, you might be able to make your gift purchases a little more affordable.

A dozen roses — 5 percent less expensive

The floral industry suffered from the early days of the pandemic when stores closed their doors and demand went flat amid lockdowns. Since then, it has continued to face supply chain issues, labor shortages and a low supply of certain varieties because of poor growing conditions. 

Other holidays, including Mother’s Day, were affected by the global shortage of fresh flowers. Florists told CBS News that they had to upcharge their products by 15% to 20% more to meet the demand for the second biggest flower holiday after Valentine’s Day.

Surprisingly, a bouquet of roses may be a more affordable gift option than in the past. Hybrid tea roses cost about $12 for a dozen in December, about 5% less than the price that time last year, per USDA Market News Retail data. 

Bottom line

There are still ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day without breaking the bank. In addition to the tips we have for saving on the traditional holiday staples, you can also make your own gifts, have a picnic in a nearby park, or enjoy a night in watching a movie. After all, the most important part of the day is spending time with your loved one. And that’s priceless.