Valentine’s Day is expected to cost consumers more this year as inflation remains sticky. Yet despite the economic doldrums, they are planning to celebrate the official day of love with their sweethearts and buy gifts for them to show how much they care. Flowers rank third on the list of top gifts even though the price of roses, the queen of flowers, is lower than in previous years.
The annual survey of consumer spending on a celebration of love and affection released last week by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) revealed that spending for Valentine’s Day this year would be about 2.52 billion baht, up 5.4% from 2023.
“Valentine’s is important in a relationship and it’s a good time to celebrate,” Pornphan Sangsrithong, assistant to the head of the UTCC’s Center for Economic and Business Forecasting, said as she announced the survey’s results.
The findings showed that 34.9% of respondents said celebrating Valentine’s Day is important, while 20.9% of them said there was nothing really special about this day. About 8% of them said it’s not as important as other special days.
The study was conducted between January 29 and February 2 with 1,250 people sampled nationwide.
With respect to overall spending, nearly three-quarters of the survey’s respondents (73.6%) said they are planning to celebrate this special occasion even though it’s expected to cost consumers more this year, with an estimated average spend of 2,125 baht per person, compared to 1,848 baht per person in 2023.
The top places for celebrations of love according to the survey are restaurants (41.6%), followed by department stores and shopping malls (24.7%), home (14.9%) and public parks (0.5%).
Restaurants, hotels, retailers and sellers are getting ready to help customers celebrate Valentine’s day. They are promoting special deals and dishes they don’t normally serve to entice potential couples and running sales on gifts ahead of Valentine’s Day with discount offers.
Chaaim P., 40, a PR manager for a media and entertainment company, said her husband will take her for dinner at an Indian restaurant in the city. The couple dine out at a new restaurant every Valentine’s Day.
“My husband and I love trying new things in life together. It makes us happy and brings the butterflies back. We’ve always wanted to try Indian food because of the diverse flavors. Eating dishes featuring spices and herbs would be a delightful and sensory experience. We will try it out,” she said.
Going out to a nice restaurant for a Valentine’s Day meal on a special day can be costly, she noted, but it was more convenient for them as they have busy schedules.
“We expect to spend more for a meal on Valentine’s Day,” Chaaim said.
Kratai and Tommy, a Thai-German couple, meanwhile, said this year they plan to have a homemade dinner for two at home to save money as they will eat out with friends to celebrate Tommy’s birthday which falls on February 15.
“My husband, Tommy, loves Thai food. Hot and spicy dishes are his favorites. So I will create a special evening for the two of us. I know it may sound boring to many to stay in and cook something to celebrate the day.
To me, eating with someone I love is great, but cooking for someone I love is even better. It’s a great way to show someone that I care. It’s something from the heart,” says Kratai, adding that her menu of love will include stir-fried shrimps with chilli and salt, stir-fried squid in yellow curry and steamed fish with soy sauce.
One of the great things about dining in with her valentine, Kratai said, is that she can cook exactly what they both like and how they like it.
“Tommy hates the smell of shrimp paste (kapi). I will skip the ingredient in the dishes I cook for him,” she said.
Malika A., 34, a salesperson at a Thai-Japanese joint venture company, said she plans to stay in with her girlfriend on the day of love. They will order takeaway, buy a tub of ice cream, watch a movie and chill out on the sofa.
“We will be spending quality time together, showing love and celebrating our relationship. That will make us happy for the rest of the year” she said. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to always be about romantic love. It can be about family too.
The same survey showed that 30.7% of respondents, mostly singles, intended to show their affection for their parents.
Supaporn A., a single 49-year-old manager with a shipping company, said she will take this opportunity to show her father how much his love has meant to her.
“I plan to visit my father, give him my love and thank him for raising me and always being at my side. I will give him some money too. That will make him happy,” she said.
What to give on Valentine’s Day
The results of a separate survey by Visa released on February 11, showed that shopping online will be the path most consumers choose for Valentine’s Day gifts, with clothes and bags tying for first place on the gift list.
The survey showed nearly 80% of respondents said they are planning to purchase Valentine’s gifts online. The top shopping destinations are online stores and e-commerce (57%) and social media platforms (20%).
The study was carried out online by YouGov covering 2,006 consumers to investigate their Valentine’s spending, behaviour and factors affecting their buying decisions.
The top gifts they plan to buy for their sweetheart include clothes, handbags and jewellery (30%) followed by chocolate (25%) and flowers (12%) respectively.
Many of them will be opting for roses, which are cheaper than they were two years ago, thanks to nice weather.
“We’re so lucky. The weather is hot this year during the harvesting time,” Pornsomjai H., a florist at Pak Khlong Talat said, adding weather conditions present a big challenge for growing roses.
She says the price of a locally grown rose would be around 10-20 baht this year. Two years ago, it was double that due to short supply.
The Valentine’s Day market was at its worst in 2022 when florists worldwide faced a flower shortage. Before that, the pandemic also disrupted the flower supply chain due to nationwide lockdowns, not to mention labour shortages and poor growing conditions.
Yet despite the lower price, the florist doesn’t expect sales to jump this year.
“Consumers have become more cautious in their spending. The economy has not fully recovered,” Pornsomjai said.
By Thai PBS World Feature Desk