A Holiday for Cheap, Procrastinating Men – and Supermarkets

February 13, 2015

Keep your Valentine’s Day displays up into the night of the 14th, late traffic suggests.

Whole Foods Market wants in on the average $142.31 lovers will spend on gifts this Valentine’s Day – a figure the National Retail Federation says includes candy, flowers, dining out, gift cards, jewelry and more, and is up from 2014’s $133.91.

The chain sees room to come in lower-priced than independent florists. So it has partnering in northern California with Instacart between February 9 and 15 to deliver any of four long-stemmed bouquet options wrapped in festive paper. Prices start at $30 for one dozen Whole Trade red roses, delivered at a pre-set time or within a one- or two-hour window. The Whole Trade label guarantees better wages and working conditions for farm workers, fair prices to producers, and community support.

The Lempert Report has witnessed many shoppers rushing in to buy flowers in supermarkets late into the night on February 14. Fairway Market is one example where staffers in a dedicated service area gift wrap and sell mostly roses by the dozen or two – along with vases, some pre-made arrangements, and plant food – at prices lower than florists.  

It attracts a line that sometimes impedes shoppers from entering the main part of the store. On the line are practically all guys – who must take their barcoded price tags past the prepared foods section of the store to reach the registers and pay. This raises the odds for purchase of a tasty takeout dinner, with specialty chocolates and cheeses nearby, for a complete Valentine-at-home experience.

Clearly, this is one holiday that ain’t over ‘til it’s over. So keep your displays up.

Now comes a study from BeFrugal.com and The Omnibus Company that says Valentine romantics can shop at the supermarket (and other low-priced retailers) guilt-free. Nearly all - 97 percent of U.S. adults surveyed – “would not be disappointed in a Valentine’s Day gift if they knew it was purchased at a discount or with a coupon,” the study finds. A large majority – 84 percent - also feel “it’s perfectly fine to cut costs on Valentine’s Day gifts,” the data show.

Women feel this way more strongly than men, by an 89 percent to 79 percent margin. 

Love is in the air this coming weekend. And supermarkets have a better chance to absorb a bigger share of it than they ever thought they could.