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Published: Tuesday, 2/14/2006

Shops expect sweet Valentine's

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Red roses are the focus as florists and helpers assemble bouquets at the Ken's in Perrysburg. Red roses are the focus as florists and helpers assemble bouquets at the Ken's in Perrysburg.
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Bob Christie, of Christie's Candies and Mints Co. in Toledo, is hoping for satisfying Valentine's Day sales. But like many retailers, he won't know exactly how sweet the traditional day of love was until tomorrow.

That's because men usually outspend women 2 to 1 on cards, candy, flowers, jewelry, and other gifts today, but often wait until the last moment - some on the day itself - to buy.

"Women come in a week ahead of time. Men well, usually the day before," Mr. Christie said with a chuckle.

Still, if past years were any indication, candy sales at Christie's will be up 2 or 3 percent over last year, he said.

At Superior Chocolates, owner Brenda Reynolds yesterday predicted a sales increase of 2 percent at her two Toledo stores.

Lisa Blade packs a heart box at Superior Chocolates at Westgate. Lisa Blade packs a heart box at Superior Chocolates at Westgate.
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"Overall we could be up a few percentage points, but it's hard to say because Valentine's Day is definitely a last-minute holiday," she said, while hustling to make chocolate-covered strawberries.

According to the National Retail Federation, total spending today will hit $13.7 billion, up nearly 4 percent from last year.

Surveys by the group show men will spend an average of $136,

women about $69.

Nearly 60 percent of people buy a greeting card, almost half buy candy, 42 percent dine out, 33 percent purchase flowers, and 15 percent buy jewelry.

Candy sellers take in the most revenue. According to the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, $1.1 billion in confectionery products will be sold. For cards, $938 million will be spent, said the Greeting Card Association.

Pat Cannon, manager of Gen's Hallmark store in the Westgate Village Shopping Center in Toledo, said cards sold extremely well this year, but other items, such as stuffed animals, collectibles, and novelties, were lagging past years.

Like the candy shop retailers, Fred Moor, co-owner of Ken's Flower Shops, prepared for a slight sales increase but couldn't be sure of it.

"It's almost like getting a month's worth of business in one day. We have formulas, staffing levels, and you try to base the business on prior years' experience," he said.

For florists, a weekday holiday is best because men like to have flowers delivered to workplaces for others to see, he said.

"If Valentine's Day falls on a weekend, that usually equals a dinner out and fewer flowers," Mr. Moor said. "But with a Tuesday, I'll get the majority of my business the day before and on Valentine's Day."

Contact Jon Chavez at:

jchavez@theblade.com

or 419-724-6128.



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