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February 11, 2013
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Valentine's Day dear to the hearts of merchants

Flowers, chocolates, plush animals, dinner for two. They’re all associated with Valentine’s Day, and they’re all a boost to retailers who offer those products and services.

It’s a day to lavish attention on loved ones, and it’ll be a boost to the economy. According to the National Retail Federation, $17.6 billion was spent on and around Valentine’s Day 2012 in the U.S. The federation estimates that $18.6 billion will be spent this year, with the day of love and roses on tap for Thursday.

A survey indicated that individually, people will spend an average of $130.97, almost $5 more than the average of a year ago. And following tradition, men planned to spend more than women — $175.61 vs. $88.78 — according to the survey.

“Valentine’s Day is No. 2 (in sales) to Christmas,” Frank Bartley, owner of Hanson Jewelers in Roseburg. “It’s the second-biggest celebrated event. Gentlemen want to get something nice for their wife or girlfriend.”

He said red and hearts are popular themes. Customers find those in earrings, pendants and rings. He added that natural red and pink diamonds are “incredibly rare and are the most expensive,” but that laboratory-manufactured diamonds are more affordable and have gained some popularity as a Valentine’s gift.

Gary Quist, co-owner of Roseburg Book & Stationery, a Hallmark Card franchise, agreed that Valentine’s Day sales are second only to Christmas. He said cards are the most popular item, followed by plush animals and chocolates.

“I don’t know that Valentine’s Day has suffered a whole lot,” Quist said of sales around the holiday during the past five-year economic slowdown. “People are still willing to spend extra dollars on their sweethearts.”

At Wintergreen Nursery & Florist in Winston, co-owner Mary Ann Winters said Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are both “crazy busy.” She said a half dozen or a dozen red roses continue to be most popular, but roses in other colors have gained some attention. The floral shop ran out of bright pink roses a year ago, she said.

“Everybody still likes to get flowers,” Winters said. “They make them feel special. Our home deliveries probably equal our work deliveries.”

During the evening hours Thursday, restaurants are expected to be busy.

“Valentine’s Day is most definitely one of our busiest days of the years, outside maybe Mother’s Day and maybe Father’s Day,” said Jay Ervin, a manager of Blackbird Bar and Grill in Roseburg.

As of Friday afternoon, the Blackbird was half full with reservations for Thursday evening, according to Ervin. He said he expected the restaurant to be sold out by the holiday.

“Thursday is normally a little bit on the slow side for us, so we expect to get a lot more visitors this Thursday,” he said. “It’s a special time to take your sweetie out. From my experience, people will spend a little extra on wine, a little extra on dessert on this day.

“It’s usually parties of two, and we’ll create a cozy atmosphere, an intimate setting with lowered lights for them,” Erwin added.

IBISWorld, a marketing research organization, broke Valentine’s Day spending down into several categories: 47.4 percent on dining out, 13.9 percent on candy, 11.6 percent on romantic getaways, 8.5 percent on flowers, 7.8 percent on jewelry, 6.3 percent on clothing and lingerie, and 4.4 percent on cards.

Retailers warn shoppers to expect less selection if they wait until the last day to look for a card or gift or to make a reservation. Most retailers have to order inventory at least a month in advance, and if an item is running low in the last days prior to the holiday, there’s not time to order and restock.

“Valentine’s is a bright spot,” Winters said. “It’s a nice kickoff into the spring season after a long winter.”

• You can reach business reporter Craig Reed at 541-957-4210 or by email at creed@nrtoday.com.

People are still willing to spend extra dollars on their sweethearts.

Gary Quist
co-owner of Roseburg Book & Stationery

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The News-Review Updated Feb 11, 2013 12:19PM Published Feb 18, 2013 06:28PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.