The price of Valentine’s Day is rising… Here’s Why

Adriana Hernandez-Santana, Junior Feature Editor

Valentine’s day. A day for love, a day for romance, a day for giving. 

But how much can you give before you break the bank? 

Dr. Teshome Abebe, an Economics Professor at Eastern, says that the residents of Charleston might be able to spend a little bit more money on their loved ones this year.  

Abebe says that the amount of money spent on this holiday will help show how the economy is doing. With unemployment at an all time low of 3.4%, people’s spending habits are shown to be higher.  

“Because unemployment is down and inflation is coming down a little bit, both are good things,” Abebe said. “When unemployment is down, income increases. When inflation comes down, you can spend more, you can allocate, you can buy more at the same level of prices because of that.”  

This means higher expenditures just in time for this special day. 

With that in mind, Coles County spending habits are projected to be high for Valentine’s day. This would mean a higher generation of money for the economy.  

Valentine’s Day cards displayed on the counter of Bells Flower Corner. (Ashanti Thomas)

Evan Kubicek, an instructor in EIU’s School of Business, says that this would be around the prime time for some stores to have their sales increase as well.  

It just depends on whether the store plays its (Valentine’s) cards right.  

“I would say it’s not uncommon to see [stores] and their valuations potentially going up in anticipation,” says Kubicek.  

Kubicek referenced a press release from the National Retail Federation, NRF, which projected that Americans would spend around $26 billion this year for the holiday.  

In addition, 52% of Americans are planning to spend an average of $192.80 on gifts this year, which is $17.39 more than last year.  

So what exactly are people spending their money on? 

Char Matthews, a flower designer at Bells Flower Corner, keeps organized by erasing things off the chalkboard in the work area. (Ashanti Thomas)

NRF says that the top gifts include candy (57%), greeting cards (40%), flowers (37%), an evening out (32%), jewelry (21%), gift cards (20%) and clothing (19%).  

So what does Valentine’s day mean for Charleston? Can small business owners keep up? 

Lynn McGrath, the owner of Bell’s Flower Shop in Charleston, says that Valentine’s Day is the busiest day of the year. They prepare for several months to ensure all the orders are completed in time.   

Lynn McGrath, works hard in her flower shop, Bells Flower Corner, a day before Valentine’s Day by designing multiple flower bouquets. (Ashanti Thomas)

The Valentine’s Day flowers were ordered back in October.  

Flower prices vary depending on color, if it’s naturally occurring or a hybrid, and the season in which the flower blooms. Between ordering flowers from Ecuador, getting them shipped, and transported safely cost Bell’s Flower shop upwards of $4,000. 

The cheapest flowers are the leather leafs, starting at $1.50. The most expensive – the stargazer lily, priced at $10 per stem.  

The average amount for a bouquet can range anywhere between $50-$75.  

Jack McGrath, the co-owner of Bells Flower Corner, puts the prepared flowers in the back of his car to be delivered to Mattoon. (Ashanti Thomas)

Valentine’s day is the third highest revenue month of the year, clocking in at around $10,000.  

The only higher time is wedding and graduation season in April and May, with an average income of around $11,000 each.  

It can be a challenge for locally owned flower shops. 

McGrath’s family takes off work to come and help deliver all the bouquets during the Valentine’s day heat. 

“My husband takes off from his job and delivers for me. Usually my kids take off from their jobs and come and help [me too],” she said.  

To try and things a little easier for the shop, McGrath does have a request for the people. 

“If they can get their orders in early, wonderful,” she said.  

Quinn Peterson looks around at different items to buy something for his wife for Valentine’s Day in Bells Flower Corner like chocolates, picture frames, and flowers. (Ashanti Thomas)

As for other shops on the square, the need to order everything in advance may not be the same thing, but the plea to shop locally is.  

According to Doug Abolt, president of the Charleston Chamber of Commerce, there’s a lot to choose from. 

“There’s some boutiques around the square that, you know, there are candles or incense or special gifts are around the square, clothing around the square, the butcher shop,” he said.  

Abolt says that economically, this holiday could definitely get a lot of small businesses on people’s radar. The big issue is spreading awareness for these local shops.  

“Every little bit help. We’re just raising awareness of the objective of shopping local, and the benefits of keeping your dollars local, but also raising awareness of some really neat stores,” he says.  

The back of Bells Flower Corner is where the staff create their custom flower bouqets. They perfect them by choosing a combination of flowers, cutting parts of the stem off, and placing them in the right spot to be ready to go for the customer on Monday afternoon. (Ashanti Thomas)


David Hasley, one of the founders for the Charleston Area Retailers group on Facebook, as well as the owner of Castle and Cottage and Lola Viola, agrees that these small stores on the square really have a lot to offer.  

Halsey says that his stores carry candies from Flesor’s Candy Kitchen from Tuscola. They also carry their chocolate as well, which is a common sweet for your sweetie. 

Swanson Jewelers is also currently running a Valentine’s day portion as well. With every purchase of a piece of jewelry, you receive a free gift-a polishing cloth! 

“Shop small businesses, you know, you support local people and businesses and keep the money in the community when you shop here,” says Hasley.  


Adriana Hernandez-Santana can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].