OPINION | Why Valentine’s Day is a marketing gimmick 

At the beginning of every year, stores are filled with Valentine’s Day merchandise. Themed chocolate, roses, red hearts and stuffed animals overflow the shelves. According to Hallmark, the average person spent $165 on Valentine’s Day celebrations in 2021. 

Why do we need a day to spend hundreds of dollars, just to share our appreciation and love for those around us? Being kind and showing appreciation is free, and when it comes from the heart and isn’t forced on a particular day, it means a lot more.  

As someone who works in the retail industry, I have seen my share of Valentine’s Day marketing. Each January, the shelves are stocked with boxes upon boxes of chocolate and other gifts. Every time I walk down the seasonal aisle, I wonder how much of this chocolate will be given as a compulsory action, and how much of it will be given from the heart. 

According to an article from HubSpot, the history of Valentine’s Day traces back to Roman times, so the idea of giving those we love something special is certainly not new. There are many ways of demonstrating affection, and for some, giving and receiving gifts is meaningful. 

However, those in relationships often feel pressure to impress their significant other on Valentine’s Day, and those who are single often feel lonelier. The only ones who seem to substantially benefit from Valentine’s Day are the companies who manufacture cards, chocolates and gifts. 

According to Hallmark, approximately 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year, making it the second largest holiday for giving greeting cards after Christmas.  

Valentine’s Day is even embedded in the average American childhood, with classroom exchanges of valentines cementing the idea that buying into this retail marketing scheme is a necessary part of celebrating the holiday right. Stores like Walmart, Walgreens and King Soopers sell these class valentines by the thousands.  

Because of this money-making mentality, I consider Valentine’s Day to be a gimmick. I think we should make every day a day where we show love to those around us. Buying in to the pricey marketing scheme may be fulfilling for some, but I have learned the best gifts come from the heart, not from the shelves. 

Valentine’s Day seasonal aisle. Photo by Kate Marlett.