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Have you got everything sorted for Valentine's Day yet? If not, you could be paying the price, and we don't just mean by risking the wrath of your other half…
According to research from Halifax, people are increasingly leaving it until the last minute to prepare for Valentine's Day, with data showing that the number of those using their credit cards the day before has risen by 53% in the last two years. In total, loved-up shoppers spent over £30m on 13 February last year, up from £19.9m in 2014, and if the trend continues, even more could be being spent at this every moment.
Spending on Valentine's Day as a whole has risen in recent years, too, rising by over £32m in the last two years. Indeed, the retail spend in the week leading up to the big day totted up to over £165m in 2016, with many people ramping up the romance and splashing the cash in the process – but a lot of it could be to do with rushing, too.
After all, "leaving it to the last minute means people have to pay premium prices as they rush and panic buy to make sure they've got something to give," said Jon Roberts, director of consumer cards at Halifax. "There's less choice of gifts to choose from, often with only the most expensive remaining available, while being last minute also means people pay more for next day deliveries and higher prices at convenience stores and on petrol station forecourts.
"We saw a rise in last minute spending before Valentine's Day in 2015 and then again in 2016. Valentine's Day last year was on a Sunday, which could account for the last minute spending as Saturday is typically a busy shopping day, but this doesn't seem to be the case … Being more organised can save people money."
In contrast to Valentine's Day, it seems that people tend to be a lot more organised when it comes to other days of appreciation, with shoppers far more likely to plan ahead for their parents. Indeed, 2016 saw a modest 8% increase in spending the day before Mother's Day, while there was a 13% rise in last minute Father's Day spending, still far less than the Valentine's spike.
"When we compare levels of last minute spend around Mother's Day and Father's Day, which always fall on Sundays, it becomes apparent that people are simply more prepared when it comes to these occasions. The increase in spending on the Saturday before both days in 2016 versus the previous two years is much lower. People seem to plan ahead for these days, buying presents in advance, meaning they have more control over what they spend."
It may be too late to plan in advance for Valentine's Day, but you could make the last-minute rush to the shops slightly less painful by seeing if there are any vouchers or discount codes that can reduce the impact on your wallet. You may want to consider putting your purchases on a cashback credit card, too – you may as well treat yourself at the same time as treating your loved one!
After that, vow to get organised for future Valentine's Days and other special events – set up a savings account for these very occasions, and at least you can be confident that you'll have the money there when it's time to splurge. Just make sure to mark the dates on your calendar…
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