Lovebirds shrug off global meltdown

By David Eames

Love endures all things, even a global banking meltdown, with restaurants reporting solid Valentine's Day bookings and lovebirds still buying flowers.

Talk of financial collapse, rampaging unemployment and zero economic growth has failed to put a dent in Valentine's Day appetites, and while Auckland florists expect a drop in turnover, it is because people are spending less rather than nothing at all.

It seems flowers and dinner - a killer combination that has been saving men's butts every February 14 for decades - is still a banker even in these straitened times.

Soul Bar & Bistro owner Judith Tabron is expecting a busy day today, having turned away up to 80 bookings, while O'Connell St Bistro manager John Logan has been experiencing booking "mayhem".

Though Valentine's Day usually means a busy night for restaurant owners, it is not necessarily reflected in the takings as it is only ever couples who are dining, Ms Tabron says.

One staff member at Euro, on Auckland's waterfront, says both lunch and dinner are fully booked.

"The recession hasn't quite hit the lovebirds yet."

Only six of the tables are booked for groups of more than two.

The French Cafe on Symonds St has had to put on a special lunch service to cater for those who missed out on dinner reservations, owner Creghan Molloy-Wright says. "Valentine's Day is always the same, it's one of the biggest days of the year."

Pt Chevalier florist Colin Eriksen says that although business is down 35 per cent on last Valentine's Day, people are still spending, albeit at a lower rate.

"They left it to the last minute, to see how much they could afford to spend," he says, adding that the average expenditure is down from about $50 to around $30.

That Valentine's Day falls on a Saturday this year will make it harder to determine the effect of the downturn, staff at Wildpoppies florist on College Hill say.

Carla Pindur, manager of Flowers on Franklin in Ponsonby, says it will be Monday before she can tell the effect of the downturn on takings, but she has noticed people "holding off" on orders as they did at Christmas. She has run specials on roses in the hope of enticing walk-in customers.

- NZ Herald

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