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Small businesses hoping Valentine’s Day brings sweet rewards

Updated February 12, 2021 - 4:52 pm

In any other year, Valentine’s Day in Las Vegas is one of the busiest and most lucrative holidays for restaurants, flower shops, the wedding industry and nightlife operators.

But how will lovebirds celebrate Valentine’s Day in the midst of a pandemic?

Over the past few months, the pandemic has put a spotlight on the importance of celebrating and connecting with loved ones. It’s why many Las Vegas-area small businesses are optimistic that lovebirds still want to celebrate the holiday.

“A lot of people are at home and have gone through so much adversity over the last year, that anything, like flowers, are always something that makes people smile — it’s refreshing,” said John DiBella, owner of DiBella Flowers & Gifts.

As Southern Nevadans prepare to celebrate their first pandemic Valentine’s Day, several Las Vegas-area businesses say the weekend is poised to offer a welcome bump in sales following a challenging year.

Budgets slightly less than 2020

Spending on Valentine’s Day gifts this year is projected to fall from a record $196.31 in 2020 to 164.76 this year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Locally, the Retail Association of Nevada projects that nearly 1.2 million locals are expected to celebrate the holiday, spending upward of $210 million on gifts.

“Omitting last year’s record setting performance, spending volumes and participation levels will be in line with years prior, so retail stores across Nevada are still ready with flowers, candy and jewelry as Valentine’s Day approaches,” said Bryan Wachter, senior vice president of RAN.

Candy sales, unsurprisingly, remains a popular gift item. According to a recent survey by the retail federation, 54 percent of people indicated they would purchase chocolates and other sweets.

Greeting cards came in as the second-most-popular item with 44 percent of consumers planning to purchase. Additionally, 36 percent of respondents indicated that they would be making a flower purchase this year.

Only 24 percent of people surveyed said they would enjoy an evening out, a 10 percentage point decrease from 2020.

No RSVP required

With COVID-19 cases and continued indoor dining restrictions across the U.S., many consumers are ditching the romantic evening out in favor of at-home meals and celebrations.

“Valentine’s Day is expected to see a larger than usual share of lovebirds spending the special day in the comfort of their homes rather than traditional dinners, traveling or evenings out,” Wachter said.

Fresh-cut roses

DiBella said Valentine’s Day is about showing appreciation to loved ones. With the pandemic, DiBella said people stuck at home will want to find a way to do so.

The local flower shop has been a mainstay in downtown Las Vegas over the decades and DiBella said his team is ready to fulfill orders with eight trucks ready to go.

And because Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday, DiBella said he anticipates more people will place orders on Saturday. He said he’s anticipating 12-hour shifts to fulfill them all.

DiBella said fresh-cut red roses are traditionally very popular and that the shop has a selection of flowers for the special day.

Weddings continue

Clark County Clerk Lynn Marie Goya said that over the past few days leading up to Valentine’s Day, the county’s Marriage License Bureau has seen dozens of marriage license applications each day.

On Valentine’s Day last year, 660 couples got married. This year’s numbers might look a bit different.

“Last year was a great day because Valentine’s Day was on a Friday and that always helps,” Goya said. “And Valentine’s Day is on a Sunday this year, so probably won’t get quite as many.”

Still, some Vegas-area businesses are hoping locals and out-of-town couples will get married on the special day.

McKenzi Taylor, owner of Vegas-based Cactus Collective, said she is holding the business’ second annual Valentine’s Day wedding pop-up at Cactus Joe’s Blue Diamond Nursery.

Similar to last year, but with COVID-19 safety precautions in place, Taylor said she is aiming to double last year’s event by officiating eight weddings in a single afternoon.

The outdoor micro-weddings take place at in 15-minute increments. Taylor said the package costs less than its normal offerings but includes high-quality vendors and photography.

“We’re still providing the luxury feelings of a traditional wedding,” she said. “We’re not skimping on the details with our services.”

The wedding industry in Las Vegas went through a turbulent year as the pandemic raged on. Taylor said couples have latched on to micro-weddings.

“People are kind of now understanding that you can still legally get married, and still have a wonderful celebration when the time’s right,” she said. “We are getting more inquiries for a smaller wedding just due to the circumstances and we are bridging that gap.”

Contact Jonathan Ng at jng@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ByJonathanNg on Twitter.

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