Valentine’s Day, that most romantic of holidays, is almost here — and Colorado Springs-area retailers are hoping to feel the love.
For businesses such as florists and chocolate shops that traditionally benefit when Cupid’s arrow flies, a survey released by the National Retail Federation has some good news and bad.
First, the bad news: Fewer consumers are celebrating the holiday. The survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, found that only 51 percent of Americans plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, down from 55 percent last year and a high of 63 percent in 2007.
The good news: Those who are still celebrating are expected to spend a record amount. Those surveyed said they would spend an average of $161.96, up 13 percent from last year’s $143.56 and well above the record of $146.84 set in 2016. Total spending is expected to hit $20.7 billion, eclipsing the record of $19.7 billion, also set in 2016.
So where is that money going to?
Valentine’s observers will spend $3.9 billion on jewelry (according to 18 percent of those answering the survey), $3.5 billion on an evening out (34 percent), $2.1 billion on clothing (18 percent), $1.9 billion on flowers (35 percent), $1.8 billion on candy (52 percent), $1.3 billion on gift cards (15 percent) and $933 million on greeting cards (44 percent). About 25 percent plan to give gifts of experience, such as concert tickets or a trip to a spa. (Millennials, in particular, express interest in experiential gifts.)
Here’s a peek at some local businesses looking to get a bump from Valentine’s — and one looking to capitalize on anti-Valentine’s sentiment.
At Platte Floral (1417 E. Platte Ave., platteflowers.com) Valentine’s Day is the biggest sales day of the year. Overall, Mother’s Day sales rival those of Valentine’s Day, Platte Floral owner Diane Tolbert says. But Mother’s Day sales are spread out over a week or so, while most Valentine’s Day buyers “wait until the day of.”
Does that make the shop’s ordering of inventory more complicated? Not a problem, Tolbert says.
“We pretty much can judge from year to year” she says, noting that Platte Floral has been in business for nearly 100 years.
Roses — particularly red ones — remain the favorite for Valentine’s Day, Tolbert says. Platte Floral’s roses are from South America; for Valentine’s Day they were scheduled to arrive in one shipment of 10,000 and another of 3,000.
Say it with jewelry
Among the holidays, Christmas generates the most sales at Luisa Graff Jewelers, says owner and CEO Luisa Graff. After that, she says, “it’s probably a tie between Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.”
Valentine’s, she says, “is just a magical and sweet time.” What sells depends on the level of commitment, Graff says, and there are generally two categories: those men who want to give a “love-you present” but are still early in a relationship and those who want to go all out to show their devotion. “This is an incredibly romantic time to get engaged,” she notes.
For several years, Valentine’s Day has been accompanied by “Snow and Ice Days.” This year, anyone who buys jewelry at the store between Jan. 15 and Valentine’s Day and has signed up for the promotion will get a full refund (minus sales tax and delivery charges) if 3 inches or more of snow falls at the Colorado Springs Airport on Feb. 21. (Between “the insured hours” of 2 p.m. Feb. 21 and 1:59 a.m. Feb. 22, to be precise.) About 160 lucky shoppers benefited from the promotion in 2015, with Luisa Graff Jewelers refunding “close to a quarter of a million dollars,” Graff says.
At Patsy’s Original (formerly Patsy’s Candies, Valentine’s Day “is right behind Christmas as far as important holidays in our business,” says Si Niswonger, a third-generation candy maker at the family-owned business (1540 S. 21st St., patsyscandies.com).
For Christmas, sales range from chocolate to peanut brittle to saltwater taffy to popcorn. “Christmas pretty much fills the whole gamut of product,” Niswonger says. For Valentine’s, it’s pretty much all about the chocolate.
Patsy’s is prepared to tailor your Valentine’s basket to your specific needs, Niswonger says. “The possibility of things we can do with our different varieties of chocolates and confections is pretty much unlimited, so we love to help people make it a really special, special day for that special someone.”
Fun with fondue
At The Melting Pot in downtown Colorado Springs (30 E. Pikes Peak Ave., Suite A, meltingpot.com/ colorado-springs-co/), Valentine’s Day is celebrated over many days; The “Ten Days of Valentine’s” has been an annual event for several years, says general manager Matt Tonge.
“We do the Ten Days of Valentine’s because we know a lot of people can’t get out specifically on Valentine’s Day,” he says. The promotion, featuring the five-course “Cupid’s Feast,” runs Feb. 13-23; the fondue restaurant also extends its hours on Valentine’s Day and the day after. The Cupid’s Feast is $124.95 to $149.95 per couple, depending on the date, and includes a champagne toast and a Melting Pot souvenir bag with “just some fun, Valentine’s-themed goodies,” Tonge says.
“If anybody wants to save themselves a trip to the store,” he says, “we can provide roses, rose petals, candles. The sky is kind of the limit as to how romantic they want to make it.”
For the singles
The Local Motive (localmotive events.com), a school bus converted into a public party bus, is celebrating the business’s first Valentine’s Day with an Anti-Valentine’s Day Party Bus Bar Crawl.
“We just kind of wanted to do something a little nontraditional,” says Lacie Preisler, who owns the business with husband Mike. “That’s kind of what the Local Motive is all about — shaking things up and doing something a little different.”
The anti-Valentine’s crawl is aimed at two sets of people, Preisler says: people, even couples, who “maybe aren’t into the customs of Valentine’s Day” and singles who might be dreading the holiday. “This kind of gives them a gathering place,” she says.
The anti-Valentine’s crawl, happening on the day after Valentine’s Day, costs $25 and includes stops at four breweries with drink specials such as “the Black Heart Cocktail.” There’ll be a giveaway for the best breakup story and a chance at one stop to burn old love letters — an opportunity, Preisler says, for people “to laugh and bond over those awful relationships we’ve had in the past.”