Money Matters: Valentines Day shopping trends

Reported by: Brittany Price
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Updated: 2/13/2013 9:58 am

It's a sweet season of spending. Totals in the U.S. are expected to reach around $18 billion.

"The trends are tried and true. People spend most of their money on chocolate, flowers, cards and dinner," Shannon Rinaldo, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Texas Tech’s Rawls College of Business said.  

Rinaldo said it's the emotional factor that drives the seasonal shopping.

"How much you spend on that gift and how much thought you put into that gift will dictate how much that person sees it as a symbol of how much you care about them," Rinaldo said.  

Rinaldo added, there is an appropriate balance between price paid and length of the relationship.

If you haven't been dating very long you don't want to go overboard, but you do want to express to them that you care,” Rinaldo said.

Rinaldo surveyed her students on what makes an appropriate purchase for a budding romance.

"Everybody agreed, you should go with the classic stand-by of the chocolate, the flowers and the dinner out if you haven't been dating someone that long," Rinaldo said.  

For more invested couples, spending habits may change.

"How well do you know your partner? How much will they appreciate spending more money versus spending more time and energy?" Rinaldo said.

However, it's not just couples who drop cash on the holiday.

"Marketers, because we want to sell on valentines day, we are all about exploiting that emotional need to be loved," Rinaldo said.  

"When you have a woman that's single, the message they receive is 'I’m not loved today.' I think it's a unique market," Rinaldo said.  

That's right, retailers target those who call February 14t "singles awareness day."

"Having specials for groups of women at a spa so they can have manicures and pedicures and facials," Rinaldo said is one example.

Whether it's for a loved one or a personal present, the average consumer plans to drop around $130 on Valentines Day gifts.

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