Cashing In On Cupid


Chances are, if you work in a corporate office, you’re looking at bouquets of flowers and boxes of candy.

It’s Valentine’s Day. That time of year when gifts are exchanged among loved ones in the name of St. Valentine – and to the benefit of the retail industry. And like Christmas, gift buying on this holiday tends to be at the last minute.

More Americans are celebrating the holiday this year, spending an estimated $16.9 billion, up more than 20% from 2006, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2007 Valentine's Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch.

“Now everyone’s celebrating. It’s expanding to the broader extended family. It’s very inclusive,” says Robert Passikoff, founder of brand and customer loyalty consultancy Brand Keys, which also conducted a survey about Valentine’s Day spending. “And that’s made it an even more important retail holiday than before.”


As usual, men will be the primary spenders, forking up an average of $161, for flowers, cards, candy, jewelry, an evening out or some combination of those items. Among the big players looking to profit: Hershey, Limited Brands (which owns Victoria's Secret), Tiffany, Zale, Blue Nile, American Greetings and Hallmark. And because people are buying more gift cards, a broader range of retailers are feeling the love.

“There isn’t anything else going on after Christmas, so this gives people a chance to reach out and touch folks in the best possible way,” Passikoff said.

Despite increased competition for spending dollars, some businesses are institutions in the Valentine’s market. Godiva Chocolatier is one of them. spoke to the premium chocolate company’s president Jim Goldman about the lasting power of chocolate.

More people are appreciating premium chocolate and realizing the health benefits of dark chocolate, Goldman says. Valentine’s Day is Godiva’s single busiest day of the year. More than half of Godiva's transaction volume occurs in the last 3 days of the 14-day sales period, including on Valentine's Day.

In addition to its boxed chocolates, Godiva sells 15,000 chocolate covered strawberries per hour across its boutiques nationwide during its peak period.

The company, a unit of Campbell Soup Company, posted $825 in sales in 2006 and showed solid growth globally.


A sweet treat for investors.

Here is an idea of how Valentine's Day stacks up:

* It accounts for a third of holiday sales of all cut flowers, more than any other holiday. Some 189 million stems of roses are sold.

* It's the second largest greeting card holiday behind Christmas with estimated sales at $2.6 billion in 2007.

* About $2 billion is spent on candy, with 36 million boxes of chocolate sold.

* About 8 billion conversation hearts will be produced this year.