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More counting the cost of true love in China

By Huang Ying (China Daily)

09:00, February 08, 2013

Chinese spending on Valentine's Day has surpassed that in some Eastern European countries, according to a survey by Home Credit, a financial company with subsidiaries across the world, including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Russia, Belarus and China.

Average spending on jewelry as a Valentine's Day gift in China reached $350, higher than in other countries surveyed, and almost three times that in Russia and Belarus, according to the survey.

"Chinese consumers' appetite for buying jewelry in preparation for Valentine's Day has increased in recent years, as many men would propose on this special day and jewelry is an indispensable item for the moment," said Jiang Jing, head of communication and marketing at Hong Kong-based jewelry brand Qeelin Joaillerie China.

"Although we don't have special promotions for Valentine's Day, some of our products are good choices for customers," she said.

Russians will spend the most on dinner on this day, at about $200. In China, the budget of a Valentine's dinner amounts to around $40, slightly higher than in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, according to the survey.

"Some of our frequent customers even booked Valentine's Day meals two months in advance," said Luan Hainan, vice-manager of the public relations department at Legendale Hotel, a European-style five-star hotel in Beijing.

The hotel offers two styles of Valentine's Day dinner at its French and Portuguese restaurants, which cost 988 yuan ($159) and 1,888 yuan respectively.

The two restaurants in the hotel could hold around 300 diners and currently about 80 percent of the tables have been booked. "More than 50 percent of customers are our regular clients," said Luan.

For florists, it has always been their favorite holiday, as it has become quite popular for men to buy their girlfriends flowers on that day.

"The number of clients who called to order flowers for Valentine's Day is smaller than in previous years, because this year the special day falls during the Spring Festival, when people don't have to work and lovers prefer to buy flowers at brick-and-mortar shops while dating each other," said Li Li, who has run a flower shop in Beijing for five years.

There are more than 20 calls to the shop every day asking about reserving flowers, but probably only 30 percent of them will actually place an order, Li said.

Among the countries surveyed, Valentine's Day expenses hover around 10 percent of monthly income, with the lowest proportion in China and the highest in Slovakia, which reached 36 percent, according to the survey.

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