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Only people into economics usually pay attention to the numbers generated by the Valentine’s Day retail sales nationwide. And to any other major celebration day as well.
Over the years, Saint Valentine sales in America have been going through the roof almost each year. 2019 sales are up $1bn compared to 3 years ago! The amount passed the 20bn benchmark and we should be kind of worried as there is little to cheer — if you keep reading.
Shoppers are expected to spend a record $20.7 billion (link), up 6 percent from $19.6 billion in 2018. The previous record, $19.7 billion, was set in 2016… there’s a big increase this year in consumers spreading the love to children, parents, friends and coworkers,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said.
But let’s now digress for a couple of minutes: it is quite interesting to say the least that millennials outnumber baby boomers today and do not have the same safety net than which their parents once had in the roaring 90’s (which ended with a bust of the tech bubble). Millennials have definitely different spending habits as this quote below seems to say.
According to the National Retail Federation, only 52% of 18- to 34-year-olds celebrate Valentine’s. That’s down from 72% in 2009. (barrons.com)
That’s an incredibly huge drop, which can be blame on the fact that Millennials also raked up unberable students loans and then got squeezed by the 2008 lingering crisis — but that’s another story. This blog will stick to the Valentine’s Day.
What this blog is attempting to essentially convey is that the “20 billion digit” was made possible because baby boomers were willing to go deeper into debt. According to CNN, 76% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck (link). Something to keep in the back of our minds at all time. This huge infusion of cash into the economy is really not what it seems at all. Yet retailers celebrate and praise the strong economy while both groups, millennials and baby boomers, are totally cash-strapped. And this does not bode well for the long-term trends, and on many levels.
The lesson here is quite obvious.
Materialism has been taking over society for many decades already. In the West, materialism took a turn for the worst in the wake of the post Great Depression era. Since then Westerners have been worshipping endless economic growth and credit, fueled by advertising. In other words: creating artificial demand. But how long can it last, realistically?
Associating and identifying money with pleasure lies at very core of materialism: if you don’t have any money you cannot have any fun, nor get any consideration from others. Your wallet is your business card. A materialistic society will simply transforms anything into a money-making entreprise. This is a very subtle coercion with accute far-reaching effects since humans care about social inclusion because it is their very nature to participate in social happenings.
This is hypnosis. Mass advertisement for Valentine’s Day already begins by early January, and leads to a climax which makes people generally feel left out if not getting into the “buying frenzy”. This is a mere corporation schemeextracting money from people’s feelings.
Moreover and to add to the injury, healthwise Valentine’s Day is also “sugar day”. Diabetes has now taken over cancer. The American Diabetes Association (link) released new research on March 22, 2018 estimating the total costs of diagnosed diabetes have risen to $327 billion in 2017 from $245 billion in 2012. The Average American consumes 150–170 pounds of sugar yearly contends the FDA. While cancer total medical costs are projected to reach $173 billion by 2020 (link), both cancer and diabetes are lifestyle diseases, essentially caused by diets, pollution and chemicals.
Ironically, in the insect world (link), populations are enslaved by sugary snacks to alter brain chemistry and make them OBEY. Something to chew on as animal research using rodents has also proven sugar more addictive than cocain.
The authors of the latest study (funded by British Journal of Sports Medicine – link) also point to parallels between the effect of cocaine and sugar on the brain, pointing out that both interact with the same reward system.
Here comes the cherry on the cake: Super Bowl And Valentine’s Day Spending To Reach A Combined $34.8 Billion
Draw your own conclusion….