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Business loves Valentine's Day

By Shi Jing and Li Xinzhu  (China Daily)

09:49, February 14, 2013

Bouquets decorated with dolls are seen outside a flower shop in Yinchuan, capital of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Feb. 13, 2013. Florists in Yinchuan began their preparation of bouquets for the upcoming Valentine's Day. (Xinhua/Peng Zhaozhi)

Date clash with traditional festival gives shops a truly romantic outlook

Any concerns that Valentine's Day clashing with the Spring Festival holiday might hurt business have been allayed as both retailers and restaurateurs report good turnover. It could even be said that the two dates are perfect partners and suit each other down to the ground.

Valentine's Day gifts and packages, ranging from 100 yuan ($16) to 1,000 yuan, at a boutique design store are in great demand.

Wang Yang, store owner and designer, believes the date clash has actually helped business.

"Valentine's Day falling during Spring Festival this year allows customers more time for shopping," said Wang.

Chain restaurant Glo London in downtown Shanghai reopens on Valentine's Day after a five-day holiday break. Their two-course dinner is priced at 299 yuan for each diner and a four-course meal costs 399 yuan.

Both meal deals have whetted the appetite of customers, said Lu Qiulin, restaurant communications manager.

Well-established hotel groups are always popular during holidays.

Sir Elly's restaurant at The Peninsula Shanghai also reports a huge demand for their dinners priced at 1,780 yuan, and 2,580 yuan with wine.

Chen Miaofeng, communications manager at The Peninsula, said "all tables will be booked before Valentine's night. Prices at the YiLong Court restaurant are 1,280 yuan per person and 1,580 yuan with wine."

The Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund is also expecting a bumper turnout as the spirit of romance captures the young and the young at heart.

Spring Festival doesn't really factor into the equation but Valentine's Day does, said Cao Ni, the hotel's public relations manager.

"Young people want to spend a romantic night in an elegant restaurant."

The sense of optimism was echoed by Ma Yanjing, marketing and communications manager at The Puli in downtown Shanghai

"We expect this year's Valentine's to be as good as last year's when we were fully booked."

A three-course dinner will cost 568 yuan each person, and another 298 yuan will be charged if the customer would like to have three glasses of wine. The surcharge will be 15 percent.

"Valentine's Day coinciding with the Spring Festival has probably helped table reservations," Ma said.

Florists expect business to blossom after a withering few months. Sales at the Cao Jia Du flower market in downtown Shanghai are reportedly down by 60 percent this year.

Online florist Chu Jian, based in Guangzhou, has been receiving a lot of inquiries recently and business is unpredictable.

Business owner Gu Yidan explains that holiday wages can be expensive.

"Online florists flourished last year, the brick-and-mortar stores felt our presence. But labor costs are much higher during holidays, therefore we won't be receiving many orders. In that sense, the timing of the festival is important. But we hope, and are confident, that business will pick up later.

"We have quite a number of customers outside Guangzhou. And many will celebrate after Valentine's Day."

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