published Saturday, February 11th, 2012

Valentine’s Day creates passionate burst of retail interaction

Betsy Grafe places roses in water while unpacking them Friday at Grafe Studio. The shop received a shipment of between 2,500 and 3,000 roses from Ecuador for Valentine's  Day arrangements.
Betsy Grafe places roses in water while unpacking them Friday at Grafe Studio. The shop received a shipment of between 2,500 and 3,000 roses from Ecuador for Valentine's Day arrangements.
Photo by Angela Lewis.

VALENTINE'S SPENDING ESTIMATES


Jewelry — $4.1 billion

Evening out — $3.5 billion

Flowers — $1.8 billion

Candy — $1.5 billion

Clothing — $1.4 billion

Gift cards — $1.1 billion

Other spending — $1.2 billion

Source: National Retail Federation estimates of nationwide spending

Americans are expected to spend $17.6 billion on flowers, jewelry and candy by Tuesday in what is typically the second-largest spending holiday of the year behind Christmas.

But East Ridge resident Gary Poole focuses more on the thought behind Valentine’s Day gifts than the price tag.

“I’m a guy. I don’t know anything about women. But I’ve been told by women that they like to feel like you went out of your way to do something special,” the East Ridge resident said.

After 16 years of marriage, he’s learned his wife isn’t big into holidays, but he still likes to mark the occasion. Poole plans to get her a single red rose and a box of handmade Hot Chocolatier chocolates.

“It’s something special and it’s something local,” he said. “It shows to her that I went out of my way, that I just didn’t stop some place on my way home.”

Dennis Grafe, owner of St. Elmo flower shop Grafe Studio, expects to sell 3,000 roses before Cupid comes to town.

February 14 is his second biggest holiday to Mother’s Day for the shop, but the month already has brought him a huge stack of orders.

“We expect Monday morning the phone is going to be ringing non-stop,” he said.

Grafe is not the only one seeing the Valentine’s bump. Americans are expected to spend $1.8 billion on flowers across the country for the day.

Each individual celebrating the day is expected to drop an average of $126.03, according to the National Retail Federation. Spending by men rises to $168.74, quite a bit higher than the average woman’s $85.76.

At $4.1 billion, jewelry stores are getting the largest chunk of that spending. That’s $600 million more than last year, an increase the National Retail Federation attributes to higher consumer confidence in the economy.

Jessica Byrd, assistant manager at Kennedy Jewelry downtown, started seeing customers, mostly men shopping for their sweethearts, coming in force Friday. She expects customer counts will continue to rise till Tuesday evening.

“It’s usually two to three times more, especially the day before and the day of,” she said. “If it’s the day of or the day before, you can pretty much show them something and they’ll take it.”

Wendy Buckner, owner of The Hot Chocolatier, said she’s seeing spikes, too. Sweet-toothed Valentine’s have already ordered hundreds of chocolate-covered strawberries and thousands of truffles.

She sees the highest sales volume around Christmas, but the season is drawn out over all of December. Valentine’s Day is her second-biggest season, but all her orders are crammed into a two-week period building to the big day.

“It’s kind of like an explosion — and it’s over,” she said. “I’m working like a crazy person.”

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