Valentine’s Day shopping is not as rosy this year as it was at this time last year, according to local businesses.
While reporting satisfactory sales so far, many said they had enjoyed better business in 2016.
On the eve of the day when lovers here join millions from around the world in presenting their partners with flowers, chocolates and other romantic gifts, and even keys as an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart, vendors were still holding on to hope that sales would improve.
Barbados TODAY visited a number of shopping areas across the island Monday to get an idea of how sales were going for the annual February 14 celebrations.
The most sought after items were roses, chocolate, candies, gift baskets and teddy bears. Others were buying apparel.
Senior clerk at the clothing store Bionic Man Shop, Trevor Straker, said while sales were down by about 20 per cent this year when compared to 2015, he was confident business would pick up Tuesday.
“It is not as good as last year. We haven’t been seeing as much activities as last year,” said Straker, whose store began advertising its Valentine’s Day selection of apparel about a week ago.
“We hope that today should be better . . . We have sales on items including suits and pants. A lot of people do last minute shopping, just like Christmas time we get a lot of last minute shopping for Valentine’s Day too,” he said.
It was a similar tune for department store Cave Shepherd in Bridgetown where store coordinator Mark Clarke said Valentine’s Day sales last year were better because it fell on a Sunday.
“We had the influx of customers on the Saturday, but this year is the Tuesday so we are now starting to see the customers filtering into the store,” he said, adding that confectionary, cosmetics and perfume remained the items of choice for many.
At Tiffany’s Discount on Roebuck Street, The City, stuffed bears, chocolate and roses were popular among the men. However, cashier Nikko Thompson said candies were topping the list of gifts.
“A lot of people are buying the candies. That is what you are seeing all over the place, a lot of candies!” he exclaimed.
Like other operators, Thompson said last year was “absolutely amazing” since the celebrations fell on a Sunday and Barbadians were generally last-minute shoppers, which meant they had more time to shop on the Friday and Saturday.
He said since “many people are late shoppers I would believe things will get even better tomorrow. Like Christmas you get more people on Christmas Eve. On the last day they do most shopping”.
It was a slightly different tune over at T’Amor Florist at Sheraton Mall, with owner Antoinette Barker reporting strong sales this year.
The 22-year-old shop, which was previously located in Bridgetown, specializes in fruit baskets, real roses and stuffed bears.
“It has been pretty good. We have a lot of clienteles and we get a lot of phone calls, customers call in to say what they want. Roses are the in-thing; they are a specialty,” Barker said.
“This year is about the same for us so far, but we still have a day to go so we might break records. Last year wasn’t bad at all,” she added, pointing out that most clients were between the ages of 17 and 40.
Another Sheraton Mall store, SA Fashions said sales were “now starting to pick up”.
Sales assistant Shari Lewis told Barbados TODAY while people had a variety to choose from, most were gravitating toward chocolate and gift sets and “not sticking to the classic bears”.
“They prefer with the bear or rose you get something to drink or something to eat. Or they might not buy those. They might come and get a shirt, something nice for the ladies. They have gift sets and roses and balloons that say, ‘I love you,’” she said, adding that gift bags were also big sale items.
“Sales are going up, but compared to last year, last year was nicer,” she explained.
Over in Warrens, Serena Blunt-Jordan was selling plants south of the Massy Stores. This is her first Valentine’s Day as a vendor and while she got some sales Monday, she was hoping things would improve Tuesday.
“A lot of people came and I got some sales and some people say they would come back tomorrow. I guess because it is a plant they want to take it home the same day. It is not easy to hide and get in the house,” she said.
And although it has not been a bed of roses, Blunt-Jordan said she was already considering the possibility of returning next year.