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Sales of Valentine’s Day gifts drop as habits change

Changing Consumer Behaviour

Kathmandu, February 13, 2017: Newly married Narendra Maharjan said he wouldn’t be buying any gifts for his wife during this Valentine Season. “I don’t believe in materialistic gifts and neither does my wife. Instead, I have booked a table for two,” he said.

Although Nepalis have embraced the Valentine culture with open arms and the number of people celebrating the day is increasing annually, the practice of exchanging gifts on the day has dropped significantly of late. This has, to some degree, affected businesses specializing in gifts and cards.

Neha Chettri, the manager of Aaisha Gifts and Cards at Jawalakhel, said, “The year before last, I remember I sold more than two dozen teddy bears during Valentine Week.”

Valentine Week started on February 7. Chettri added, “This year, however, even with Valentine’s Day nearing, I have managed to sell only a couple of bears. My customers say that typical Valentine’s Day gifts like teddy bears and chocolates have become passé.”

Likewise, Nitika Dhital, the owner of Paper Hearts at Jawalakhel, said, “People now think that giving physical cards on special days are out of fashion.” Paper Hearts deals in cards and also offers custom-made contemporary cards.

“Social media has made it easier for people to share greetings. On top of that, the increasing popularity of apps that provide online cards like Paperless Post has decreased the popularity of paper cards.” Sumit Majhi, a teenager, said, “I think that buying gifts and cards on every occasion is too expensive. Instead, I greet my girlfriend verbally or on Facebook.”

Sailendra Dahal, the owner of Koseli Gifts at Kaushaltar, said, “People nowadays, especially teens, prefer custom- and handmade gifts because they are more emotional and romantic. People still buy rose bouquets for Valentine’s Day, but it is just for formality.” Teenager Arika Pradhan said, “I will be more impressed if someone gives me something handmade instead of something off a shelf. I think that handmade items have a far more sentimental value than an ordinary Valentine gift.”

Meanwhile, Akash Sharma, the owner of Archie’s, said, “We have experienced a 20 percent increase in sales of gifts during Valentine Week this year compared to last year, but it is still not satisfactory. We still hope sales will increase though.” He expects sales to swell on Valentine’s Eve and Valentine’s Day.

A snap survey carried out by the Post shows that most gift shops in the Capital have seen a 15 percent drop in sales of gifts and cards during Valentine Week compared to last year. Valentine Week is important for gift shops as it is their peak sales period.

“Valentine Week and the wedding season are the main times to sell gifts and bouquets.” Dahal said. “They account for around 30 percent of my yearly revenue. A decrease in sales of gifts this year will obviously hurt my profits.”

Similarly, Chettri of Aisha Gifts said, “Like last year, I had hopes of selling more during Valentine Season, and I bought a large number of teddy bears and gift items, but more than half of them remain unsold.” She added that she was compelled to clear her stocks by offering heavy discounts. Dhital said, “We don’t make cards until we get orders, so we don’t have to sell off our stock by giving heavy discounts; but as our hopes for this Valentine Season were dashed, our revenue this year might be negatively affected.”

By Sakchham Karki