Valentine's Day for Love, and Spending

Cupid is still pretty much of a stranger in Shanghai, but local candy makers and hotels aren't wasting time getting on the Valentine's Day spending bandwagon.

Flower sellers already are riding the wagon - most sellers doubled prices last week in anticipation of a buying spree for Valentine's observance.

Candy makers and hotels and many other businesses are hoping the traditional Western day for lovers, which falls on February 14, will become as profitable as the Spring Festival holiday.

"Sales on Valentine's Day are too small to be counted now," said Liu Guanqi, associate manager of US-based Hershey Foods Corp. "However, long-term benefits and fierce competition have forced us to do Valentine's Day promotions this year."

The company cut prices of more than 20 types of its popular Kisses chocolate and organized a contest for the best-composed love sentence.

However, it said limited government policy prevented it from introducing products specially designed for the holiday.

Liu said Hershey Foods hopes that Valentine's Day sales will ultimately equal that of Spring Festival, which provides one-third of its annual sales.

"Although observed by more and more young people, celebrating Valentine's Day with candy is far from becoming a custom," said Qiu Weiming, sales manager of Shanghai Coline Coco Products Co., producer of Cemol chocolate. "However, market potential is definitely great."

"People here, especially youngsters, are eager to accept new ideas," said Qiu. "We're confident that chocolate will become more popular in Shanghai - especially on Valentine's Day."

The custom apparently has already taken hold at hotels. Table bookings for Valentine's night are up.

However, at least two five-star hotels reduced dinner prices to attract lovers, especially young ones.

"All of our about 100 Valentine's buffet offers were booked last week," said Hu Ye, public relations manager of Shanghai JC Mandarin.

A Pudong Shangri-la representative said the hotel was "satisfied" with its Valentine's Day reservations.

Both hotels attributed the increased reservations for tomorrow night to "slight" price cuts, lowering the cost to around 160 yuan (US$19) per person.

"However, we don't expect a one-day holiday to increase revenue," said Li Xia, public relations manager of Pudong Shangri-la.

A local social science professor is not optimistic about the future of the Western holiday.

"Generally, Valentine's Day is designed only for people in love and those who are familiar with Western customs," said Dou Hui, a professor at the Department of Social Science at Shanghai International Studies University.

"With the lack of tradition and quickly fading curiosity, the holiday hardly has a chance to become popular in Shanghai."

( 02/13/2001)

In This Series

A Surprising Valentine’s Day Present



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