Retailers are set to score from the cheaters who have added Mistress Day to the burdens of lovers who cannot be satisfied with just one partner on Valentine’s Day.

Yesterday was Mistress Day, an unofficial day on the calendar for philandering husbands to splash out on diamonds and underwear for their lovers before downscaling to flowers and household appliances for the wife on Valentine’s Day, according to an online service that provides a platform for married people to date a third party.

“Since most men can’t say they ‘have to work late’ on Valentine’s Day, what better day to treat your mistress than the day before?” said Chantal Hanack, the spokeswoman for AshleyMadison.com, which boasts 17 million users worldwide and more than 120 000 local subscribers.

Valentine’s Day, celebrated annually, has nobler origins as it commemorates the memory of Saint Valentine, a Roman priest who was martyred in about 269. He was said to have performed weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and ministered to Christians who were persecuted under the Roman Empire.

One businessman who is reaping the fruits of Valentine’s Day is Ryan Bacher, the managing director and co-founder of the NetFlorist Group. By yesterday the group had received 15 000 orders, amounting to about 150 000 individual roses, which was a 30 percent increase on sales from last year.

Bacher said NetFlorist had made deliveries yesterday, although it did not regard these as “Mistress Day” deliveries.

“We don’t call it that – we incentivise our customers to get delivery a day early by offering free chocolates and balloons to help us spread the load of the deliveries,” he said.

He added that the most popular gifts given were hampers, which were the second biggest seller this year. These included chocolate liqueur hampers, teddy bear hampers and chocolate hampers with jewellery and perfume.

Analysts have warned that consumers are under pressure, but Chris Gilmour, an analyst at Absa Investments, said consumers barred no holds for celebratory days.

“Celebratory days such as Christmas, Easter or Valentine’s Day are obviously very big in the consumer arena and retailers gear up for them every year. Christmas is especially large, with upwards of 40 percent of annual sales being compressed into the short Christmas season lead-up. In the US, the Thanksgiving Weekend is the biggest event.

“Of all the ones I have mentioned, I would guess that Valentine’s is probably the smallest, as it has restricted appeal in comparison with the very broad appeal of the others.

“But nevertheless, having said that, it probably has a higher percentage of ‘value-add’ in terms of the prices of gifts bought. In other words, men and women are likely to avoid appearing as cheapskates on Valentine’s Day, so it would be quite usual to have an expensive gift plus a lunch or dinner as well.”

Noel Biderman, the chief executive and founder of AshleyMadison.com said: “February 13 is not a Hallmark holiday yet, but I know a substantial portion of Valentine’s Day cards are given to affair partners. While wives look forward to treats on Valentine’s Day their husbands and lovers are more excited about what lies in store on Mistress Day.”