Retailers sweet on Valentine's Day

Courtesy of the Associated Press

February 13, 2014

TOLEDO, Ohio — For Jason Peters, there’s no sweeter time of the year than this.

American consumers are expected to spend an average of $134 each this Valentine’s Day, showering their loved ones with flowers, fancy dinners, jewelry, and chocolates.

Mr. Peters hopes to cash in on some of that generosity at Maumee Valley Chocolate and Candy, the store he owns in downtown Maumee.

“We’ve seen a spike since Saturday, but based on years past today and Friday are by far the two busiest days of our year,” he said.

Christmas may be a busy season, but nothing compares to the week of Valentine’s Day. A survey by the National Retail Federation found that 48 percent of those who plan to shop for the holiday will buy candy.

“We do a ton of chocolate-covered strawberries today and Friday,” Mr. Peters said

In all, the National Retail Federation expects consumers to shell out $17.3 billion on Valentine’s Day this year.

That’s up just slightly from what the annual survey found last year. But even though consumers may not be opening their wallets wider, they’re still opening them.

“Valentine’s Day will continue to be a popular gift-giving event, even when consumers are frugal with their budgets,” said Matthew Shay, National Retail Federation president. “This is the one day of the year when millions find a way to show their loved ones they care.”

Locally, florists say they’re not seeing people holding back.

“Just from the vantage point I see right now, it seems like they’re very willing to spend. It doesn’t seem like they’re holding back at all,” said Fred Moor, owner of Ken’s Flower Shops in Perrysburg. “I think the Toledo economy has definitely improved from last year, and it seems to be more of a positive note.”

Sandy Sack, owner of Schramm’s Flowers on West Central Avenue, also says people are willing to spend.

“They don’t bat an eye at the price,” Ms. Sack said.

“A lot of times this is the only time of the year people may order flowers, and we want to make sure we have the best product,” she added. “We have really good flowers. I’m excited about the quality. I’m not excited about the price.”

Florists say prices always jump this time of year because growers and distributors boost their prices, forcing retailers to follow suit.

Still, red roses remain one of the top Valentine’s Day gifts.

“It seems men gravitate toward them,” Ms. Sack said. “They want the red roses.”

Flower shops typically have to call in the reinforcements to make sure everything is delivered on time. Mr. Moor uses 30 to 40 contract drivers on Valentine’s Day. On a normal day, he might have five.

“So far it seems like it’s pretty good. Based on having an additional day, all the way to Friday, I think it’s going to be a strong holiday,” he said.

The National Retail Federation projects that U.S. consumers will spend more than $1.9 billion on flowers.

Though men are only slightly more likely to buy gifts for their significant other, they spend on average about twice what women spend, according to the National Retail Federation. On average, women spend $56.97, while men spend $113.34.

It’s not just significant others, but children and friends stand to get a little token of love or gratitude.

The survey found 19 percent of Americans say they’ll be buying for their pets too, spending on average $28.

That works out to more than $700 million. That’s a whole lot of bones.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at or 419-724-6134 or on Twitter @BladeAutoWriter.