How to take the cheap approach to all those special days.
February is one of those months with a pre-selected celebration that enriches retailers and soaks consumers. Valentine’s Day is no different than other so-called special days when it comes to buying things: Prices quickly rise just ahead of the day and you pay through the nose if you want your timing to be spot on.
A 2014 study by Bloom Nation found that florists in the Los Angeles area paid about US 70¢ per stem prior to February 14, but that rose to US$1.85 on the special day. The retail price, meanwhile, jumped from US$3 to US$6 per stem.
Go out for dinner on Valentine’ s Day and you are guaranteed to pay more money for a meal. There are loads of restaurants with a “special” pr ix-fix e menu that, as far as I can tell, is nothing more than an excuse to jack up rates. In the hotel industry, the Valentine’ s getaway is a lucrative package that helps fill rooms in what can bea slow time for leisure travel. The dream is a Wednesday Valentine’s Day because consumers can book weekend packages before and after the day. And, yes, rates are higher, too.
“There’s no question that the more Internet-enabled we all are and the more sophisticated that the revenue management is, help drive the ability to manipulate the rates,” says Lyle Hall, managing director of H LT Advisory Inc ., which follows the hospitality sector.
Markets have become more efficient and respond pretty quickly to supply and demand. But it’ s hard for consumers to argue they are being gouged because they can benefit during off-peak times. Indeed, there are ways to work this to your advantage. For example, travelling over Christmas or March break to locations geared for kids is going to cost you because that’ s what everybody wants to do during those periods .“Look at occupancy around Easter and you see as pike ,” says Hall, adding that means hoteliers can charge more.
But Hall points out that if you book a trip to what is normally considered a business centre during the holiday period, you might actually save money. Goto Washington, D.C. over Christmas or New Year’s and you’ll find that hotel rates are down from when government is in session.
In the retail sector, it’ s well known that prices drop on Boxing Day. Collier s International studied fl ye rs for 44 products during the 2014 Christmas season and found reduced prices on 36% of the items on Boxing Day. Of course, it comes down to whether you can wait until December 26 to celebrate the season.
Prices also spike on most other “special” days. Mother’ s Day is an even bigger day for flowers than Valentine’ s Day, but maybe a harder one to pass on. Me? I’m willing to take a pass on Father’s Day to save some bucks.
As for Valentine’ s Day, love comes at a price. But there’ s nothing to say you can’ t get a better deal by celebrating on a different day.