Retailers say COVID-19 lockdowns and ongoing economic uncertainty have impacted consumer enthusiasm for Valentine’s Day. (Photo contributed)

Retailers say COVID-19 lockdowns and ongoing economic uncertainty have impacted consumer enthusiasm for Valentine’s Day. (Photo contributed)

Candy, supermarket flowers and takeout on the couch: A pandemic Valentine’s Day

Canadian Federation of Independent Business urges people to consider buying locally

HALIFAX — Canadians are expected to spend less this Valentine’s Day as COVID-19 lockdowns and ongoing economic uncertainty dampens consumer enthusiasm for the February mass-market holiday, retail experts say.

Candy, supermarket flowers and takeout on the couch are largely expected to replace artisanal chocolates, rose bouquets and fancy dinners out this Sunday as people look to curb costs, they say.

“People will still spend money this Valentine’s Day, but they’ll likely just spend less,” said retail analyst Bruce Winder.

“A lot of folks have lost their jobs and I think many people are looking to save money.”

A report by Hellosafe.ca estimates that Canadians will spend 20 per cent less this Valentine’s Day compared to last year, or about $74 dollars compared to $93 in 2020. The biggest ticket items tend to be dinner, gifts and flowers, the report said.

The tighter budget could benefit discount retailers like Dollarama and Walmart and as thrifty shoppers look for ways to save money, Winder said.

Indeed, supermarkets and big box stores that sell groceries like Costco are the only stores that remain open for in-person shopping in some provinces – critical for the last-minute crowd that didn’t order ahead with a florist, he said.

But the Canadian Federation of Independent Business is urging people to consider buying locally.

“February can be an absolutely brutal month at the best of times and needless to say after 11 months of a pandemic and plummeting sales is not the best of times,” said Laura Jones, executive vice-president of CFIB.

“There’s an opportunity here to make a small business your valentine and give a much-needed boost to Main Street.”

Meanwhile, Restaurants Canada is encouraging people to make in-person reservations where possible or order takeout.

“Valentine’s Day is one of the best holidays of the year for restaurants – if not the best,” said Olivier Bourbeau, vice-president of federal and Quebec affairs for Restaurants Canada.

“In normal times, most restaurants are fully booked in a month that can otherwise be a bit slow.”

But after months of struggling during a pandemic, he said Valentine’s Day is more critical for restaurants than ever.

Sales for that one day could help a restaurant survive, and Bourbeau suggested customers think beyond just the traditional Valentine’s Day dinner.

“What’s interesting about Valentine’s Day this year is that takes place on a Sunday,” he said. “So people can think about supporting a restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner.”

While some provinces are allowing dine-in meals, restaurants in many regions are only open for takeout or delivery.

But Bourbeau said whenever possible, customers should order directly through the restaurant, rather than through third-party apps that cut into already slim margins.

“I do think that many people will participate in Valentine’s Day by ordering food and having a sort of quasi-candlelight dinner at home,” Winder said. “People are still going to want to celebrate.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 11, 2021.

Retail

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Public Schools says that in the absence of additional funds from the provincial government, there was no consideration of using alternate classroom sites in the district. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools launches online engagement process

Red Deer Public schools is seeking community input to help ensure a… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels defenceman Mason Ward battles with a Medicine Hat Tigers’ forward during the WHL Central Division season opener. (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers come back to spoil Red Deer Rebels home opener

It’s been nearly 345 days since the Red Deer Rebels last played… Continue reading

Students walk into Hunting Hills High School, which is one of the Red Deer Public Schools with solar panels on its roof. (Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff)
Red Deer high school was placed in lockdown following potential threat

Hunting Hills High School was placed in a lockdown Friday after Red… Continue reading

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer says some details of the provincial government’s 2021-22 budget need to be ‘sorted out’ when it comes to the hospital expansion funding. (File photo by Advocate staff)
More detail needed regarding hospital funding, says Red Deer mayor

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer says some information is unclear regarding the… Continue reading

Alberta Health reported two new COVID-19 deaths in Red Deer Friday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two more deaths linked to Olymel outbreak in Red Deer

Province reported 356 additional COVID-19 cases Friday

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

Runner Melissa Bishop-Nriagu speaks to the media at the opening news conference at the Canadian Track and Field Championships Thursday, July 25, 2019 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canadian athletes struggling to find competition as they try to qualify for Tokyo

Canadian athletes struggling to find competition as they try to qualify for Tokyo

New York Red Bulls midfielder Jared Stroud, right, vies for the ball against Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio during an MLS soccer match in Harrison, NJ., Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. Entering his ninth season with Toronto FC, Jonathan Osorio said his off-season regimen was no different than in the past. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Eduardo Munoz Alvarez
Veteran TFC midfielder Jonathan Osorio looks to take it to the next level this season

Veteran TFC midfielder Jonathan Osorio looks to take it to the next level this season

Powell, Lowry help depleted Raptors beat Rockets

Powell, Lowry help depleted Raptors beat Rockets

Edmonton Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen (19) makes the save on Toronto Maple Leafs' Zach Hyman (11) as Tyson Barrie (22) defends during third period NHL action in Edmonton, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021. Toronto continues to lead the North Division standings, but hard-charging Edmonton is now just four points back on the all-Canadian circuit heading into a three-game series between the teams in Alberta's capital beginning Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Maple Leafs, Oilers set for key three-game series atop North Division

Maple Leafs, Oilers set for key three-game series atop North Division

Angela James stands on centre ice in front of the Toronto Maple Leafs team after being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame before Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres NHL hockey action in Toronto on Saturday November 6, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Hall of Famers James, Lowe, Hay named to Order of Hockey in Canada

Hall of Famers James, Lowe, Hay named to Order of Hockey in Canada

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse talks to center Aron Baynes (46) and guard Norman Powell (24) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris O'Meara
Nurse, five Raptors assistants sidelined to due COVID-19 health and safety protocols

Nurse, five Raptors assistants sidelined to due COVID-19 health and safety protocols

Team Ontario skip Rachel Homan, centre, makes a shot against Team Wild Card 1 as second Sarah Wilkes, left, and lead Joanne Courtney sweep at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. Ontario's Rachel Homan kicked off play in the championship pool Friday with a 7-6 victory over Chelsea Carey of Team Wild Card One at the Canadian women's curling playdowns. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Homan and Einarson improve to 8-1 at Canadian women’s curling championship

Homan and Einarson improve to 8-1 at Canadian women’s curling championship

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
New vaccine brings optimism amid rising threat of variants, high case counts

New vaccine brings optimism amid rising threat of variants, high case counts

Most Read