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August 15, 2022

Valentine’s Day exceptional demand may lead to chocolate shortages

Macro commentary by eToro analyst for Romania, Bogdan Maioreanu



Valentine’s Day is just a few days  away. Champagne, flowers, and chocolates are traditional gifts for your Valentine. However, this year some might be in short supply. At least in the United States where retailers prepare for an exceptionally good holiday.

According to the United States National Retail Federation survey, Valentine’s Day spending is expected to reach $23.9 billion this year, up from $21.8 billion in 2021 and the second-highest year on record. The best year was 2020, just before the lockdowns.

While relatively new in Romania, where it coexists with March 1st/ March 8th holidays and the local Dragobete (Feb. 24th), Valentine’s Day has caught on. A survey last year by research firm Picodi showed that Romanians’ gifts averaged the equivalent of 52 euro, with men offering restaurant dinners while women bought clothes for their partners.

In the United States 53 percent of consumers plan to celebrate the holiday in 2022, a marginal increase from the 52 percent in 2021. But 76 percent of those celebrating indicate that celebration is important given the current state of the pandemic.

What are the Americans buying for their Valentine? Candy (56 percent) is dominating consumer preferences, followed by greeting cards (40 percent) and flowers (37 percent). Nearly a third (31 percent) of respondents plan an evening out this year, up from 24 percent in 2021 and just slightly below pre-pandemic levels. Expected spending in restaurants $4.3 billion. 22 percent will opt to gift jewelry with estimated total spending of $6.2 billion, up from $4.1 billion in 2021 and the highest in the survey’s history.

According to the NRF survey, shoppers expect to spend an average of $175.41 per person on Valentine’s Day gifts, up from $164.76 in 2021. The increase comes as many intend to spend more on the significant others or spouses.

While Americans are looking mainly at candy and greeting cards for Valentine’s Day, a survey made by AdColony is showing that in Europe, Middle East and Africa, shoppers prefer clothes, cosmetics, jewelry, and chocolates. 72% of respondents are planning to shop online this year for Valentine’s Day and 43% of them will prefer to order online with a home delivery option. While the pandemic changed the Valentine celebration plans for 40% of the responders,67% are citing prices as the main driver for the change.

But the sweets are not for granted. A lot of shops in the United States are worried that they will be understocked for this holiday. “We did not receive all of what we ordered with Valentine’s Day candy,” said to The Wall Street Journal, Mark Griffin, president of B&R Stores Inc. He estimated the chain is receiving under 60% of its candy orders, and said that it’s been tough to get even non-seasonal items. Hershey Company (HSY) said that due to labor shortages and factory capacity it is running short on chocolates this year. Despite adding production lines recently and more hired workers, it hasn’t been enough to keep up with America’s appetite for its products.

If the celebration requires champagne one might discover that it is more expensive and some brands are even hard to find. “The demand for top cuvées is growing—and their prices increasing—at a faster rate than we have historically seen.” says Gabe Barkley, CEO of MHW, Ltd., a wine and spirits importer. The U.S. is currently in the early stages of a Champagne shortage that is expected to last several years. Consumers’ habits are changed by the pandemic, Americans beginning to invest more in luxury goods to be consumed at home. And like a lot of other goods the champagne shortages are to continue to 2023 and even beyond that, industry specialists say.


Bogdan Maioreanu, eToro analyst and markets commentator, has over 20 years of experience in financial services and investments and a strong background in journalism. He held different Corporate Banking management positions in both Raiffeisen Bank and OTP Bank, before moving to business consultancy roles working for IBM Romania among others. Bogdan is an Executive MBA from Asebuss and Washington University.

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