Valentine's Day is a minefield of worthless ephemera targeted at the laziest, guiltiest people in the country.
There are many items you should refrain from buying on Valentine's Day itself. Those gas-station flowers in the plastic wrapping only exist as a test of your common sense. The CVS or Walgreen's candy aisle? They're likely half-filled with Easter Candy today, with the other half populated by holiday-packaged leftovers typically favored by the key demographics of "60 Minutes" and "Blue Bloods."
If you're looking for something respectable, it's a tough call on that front, too. The Society of American Florists notes that florists charge $84 in the lead-up to Valentine's Day for arranged long-stem roses that typically cost $66 during the rest of the year. Loose roses go for $67 this time of year, but are still pricier than the $51 you'd normally pay. It's all part of the roughly $19.7 billion in spending spree that that National Retail Federation says 54.8% of consumers took part in last year.
Shoppers spent an average of $146.84 on flowers, jewelry, candy, apparel and more, up from $142.31 in 2015. Bankrate.com notes that shoppers averaged $41.66 for a dozen roses, $80.46 for dinner (before tip), $15.11 for chocolates, $323.26 for diamond earrings and $51.54 for champagne.
However, it's just a blip in what's typically a lackluster sales month. After the recession took effect in 2008 and made 2009's February sales stronger than those seen during that year's holiday season, February has ranked among the worst retail sales months of the year, according to Census Bureau data. Last year, its $302.8 billion in sales were the lowest of the year. The only other month that comes close to that futility is January, which performed worse than February from 2009 through 2015.
Yet February is stubbornly attached to slow shopping thanks to miserable weather and a general lack for motivation. February retail sales sank to $243.8 billion in 2009 before taking two years two reach pre-recession levels. Last year's February sales were the highest on record but still fell shy of March's $306 billion total. After the holidays, the post-holiday sales and even Valentine's Day, America puts away its wallet until early spring uptick. In fact, February sales last year lagged $6 billion to $8 billion behind summer totals and a whopping $12 billion behind the retail economy's Thanksgiving/Black Friday peak in November.
Though the procrastinators among you will want to give those Valentine's Day sales a push, there are some surprisingly terrible ways to do so. With help from DealNews, here are just some of the items best avoided for Valentine's Day:
Clothes from closing stores
Some of the biggest '90s mall staples have called it quits in recent weeks, as American Apparel, The Limited and Wet Seal all announced that they're going out of business. This is likely distressing to people who shopped them religiously 20 years ago but not surprising considering that much of the country hadn't shopped at those stores a a decade or more.
The good news is that they'll be marking everything down, but the bad news is that you're not going to be able to return anything. Considering that you're buying these items as gifts, you're going to be stuck with them if you don't buy them in the right size or woefully misjudge your loved one's fashion sense. A 40%-off coupon code from American Apparel is enticing, but -- in a tragic coincidence -- you'll likely be better off buying American Apparel items on Amazon. They'll not only still be sold there until stock disappears, but Amazon will still accept returns.
People who stuck by Craftsman tools for years have gone to lengths to get their hands on Craftsman's U.S.-made items after Sears shifted some production to foreign suppliers.
Now that the Craftsman brand has been sold to Stanley Black & Decker, the new owners announced plans to make more products at U.S. plants. The issue is that Sears, being Sears, is going to continue to manufacture Craftsman tools through other suppliers. Sears management has done just about everything in its power to run the chain into the ground on its watch, so messing with Craftsman after it's been sold and flooding the market with Craftsman products that will likely depress their value is just in keeping with standard practices.
As DealNews points out, though, having both Stanley Black & Decker and Sears producing Craftsman products also clouds the effectiveness of Craftsman's lifetime guarantee. Will your old Craftman hammer or drill be replaced by one of Stanley Black & Decker's local suppliers, or by the Johnny's House of Tools and Stuff that Sears solicited with the lowest bid. Maybe hold off on buying any of it until this sorts itself out.
Any Sears or Kmart items
Speaking of Sears, with nearly 150 Sears and Kmart closings coming up, you'd think this would be a great time to get some closeout deals, right? If you believe that, then you don't know Sears.
This is a company that hasn't renovated its stores since Saved By The Bell first aired and spent just $1 to $2 per square foot updating facilities while competitors like Target spent upwards of $8. Do you think they're really going to part with merchandise for anything resembling a deal?
No, because this decaying zombie of a retailer still has stores clinging to life, and those stores need inventory. Why buy more when you can just shift it from your failing locations and sell it for full price? After all, it isn't as if both brick-and-mortar and online competitors have reduced your remaining stores to retail mausoleums where shoppers go only if they need readily-available mall parking or out of morbid curiosity.
You're just overpaying for an iPad if you buy it now. The 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros are getting upgrades and a new 10.5-inch model (basically the last step between iPad and iPhone) is supposedly on the way.
As anyone who's bought an Apple product within the last decade can tell you, just wait for the announcement. After that, swoop in and get the last-generation model for drastically reduced costs.
There were so many issues with the Nintendo Wii U that need to be considered before diving in and getting the Switch. For one, the Wii U was really difficult to find in stock at the beginning of its lifespan. When it did arrive, it had few games and made fans wait years for both eagerly awaited titles and discounts. Now, with the Switch on the way, the Wii and its Miiverse and the Nintendo 3DS and its StreetPass are toast.
The Wii era is over, and all but the earliest adopters are going to want to hold off on pre-ordering the Switch and wait until some games arrive. As Nintendo die-hards know, neither Microsoft's Xbox or Sony's PlayStation lines have access to Nintendo's core titles and intellectual property. However, if you're that attached to the Nintendo universe, hang on to your little-loved Wii U until the Switch matures a bit.