Who says love doesn't cost a thing? An unassuming date can mercilessly burn a deep hole in your pocket and when it comes to this year's annual celebration of love - the Valentine's Week - it's a jaw-dropping Rs.12,000-crore ($2.6 billion) business! So says a study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), under the aegis of Social Development Foundation.
So right from the roadside florist to the telecom operator, the luxurious restaurant to the upscale gift shop, everyone will get a generous piece of the rich love pie. The two-month long study, which was conducted in 10 major cities from December 2010 to January 2011, ascertained the extent of over-spending among the young lovers to make their partners feel special.
Valentine's Week, a love carnival of sorts, begins Feb 7 with Rose Day, followed by Proposal Day Feb 8, Chocolate Day Feb 9, Teddy Day Feb 10, Promise Day Feb 11, Kiss Day Feb 12, Hug Day Feb 13, and finally the ceremonious Valentine's Day Feb 14.
According to D.S Rawat, secretary general at Assocham, the spending on Valentine's Week this year will be 120 percent higher than last year.
"Owing to the improved economic situation this year and increased spending power of individuals, youths and eligible bachelors are gung-ho about breaking all previous records as they are likely to spend almost over 120 percent as compared to the previous year," he said.
The biggest chunk of the earnings come from the staple greeting cards, followed by flowers, chocolates, toys, and moves on to more exorbitant stuff like diamond rings, bracelets, necklaces, readymade garments, cell phones and electronic gadgets.
Youhan Aria, head of corporate communications at Archies Limited, says that between Feb 7 and Feb 14 every year, Archies makes a turnover of 16 percent and the sales zoom up to 10 times the normal figure.
"We have 171 new greeting cards designs exclusively for Valentine's Day and the price range is between Rs.50 and Rs.699. Moreover, we have introduced about 220 special gifts like jewel boxes, heart-shaped soft toys, photo frames, mugs, quotation books, bags, vases, scented candles, metal candle-holders and crystal pieces," Aria told IANS.
"It is not just youngsters who shop, even those in the age group of 40-50 extensively shop for the occasion," he added.
As per the Assocham study, an interaction with 1,200 people - including professionals and students in schools and colleges, people are ready to spend anywhere between Rs.5,000 and Rs.1,50,000 for Valentine's Day celebrations, depending upon their individual capacity to spend.
Chayya Singh, a second year commerce student, said: "I will purchase at least 15 greeting cards, love bands and an equal number of pink roses for all my friends. This is the day to express affection to your loved ones. So, spending Rs.1,000-3,000 is not a big deal."
As for Atul Bharghav, a BPO employee, he plans to gift his fiance "365 roses of different colours and a collection of 100 romantic Bollywood songs".
Ask any obscure florist on the roadside, and he will tell you how the heart-shaped bouquets ranging from Rs.400 to Rs.10,000 sell like hot cakes during the week. Apart from that, artificial feather rose princess imported from China, orchids from Thailand and lilies are also favourites among the customers.
"I have already ordered 500 extra flowers and I'm confident that I'll do good business on Valentine's Day," said Mohit Kumar, a florist at Connaught Place.