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Retailers offer Valentine's Day deals

Stores, including some in Southern California, are cutting prices on holiday fare as consumers are expected to spend less this year on such things as chocolates and flowers.

February 13, 2009|Andrea Chang

Cupid is feeling thrifty this year, so retailers are showing the love this Valentine's Day with lower prices and discounted specials.

The average consumer will spend $102.50 to celebrate the day, down 20 bucks from last year, according to a National Retail Federation survey. Total spending for Valentine's Day, which falls on Saturday, is expected to total about $14.7 billion.

"Valentine's Day this year will be more about small tokens of affection rather than extravagant purchases," said Phil Rist, executive vice president of strategic initiatives for BIGresearch, which conducted the federation's survey.

Still, nearly half of consumers said they would dine at a restaurant, 36% would buy flowers and 16% would buy jewelry, the survey found.

To encourage consumers to spend, many retailers are offering deals on Valentine's Day fare. Here are some bargains spotted around Southern California.

Gifts and flowers: Specialty shop Fancifull near Larchmont Village, which sells flowers, gourmet foods and wine, cut its prices on custom gift baskets. Usually priced at $100 or more, Valentine's Day gift baskets start at about $50 this year, owner Terry August said.

Her store is also giving away a free chocolate heart with every purchase and selling a dozen long-stemmed red roses in a glass vase for $75 -- $15 less than last year's price, she said.

"We're really bending over backward to accommodate any budget," she said. "We know it's tough for everybody, including us. I'd rather sell than be stuck with flowers. We're trying to stay in touch with our customers."

Dinner for two: At Cafe Tu Tu Tango, an American-style tapas restaurant in Orange, customers can order a prix fixe surf-and-turf dinner for $29.95, $10 less than last year's Valentine's Day menu. The restaurant will also offer champagne and sangria specials, co-owner Jim Hall said.

The three-course menu "is similar to last year's but we did scale back the pricing," he said. "We wanted to be right in tune with current conditions, which meant we had to be more value-oriented than the year prior."

Chocolates: Agoura Hills shop Tifa Chocolate & Gelato designed smaller gift baskets and boxes for Valentine's Day this year to give consumers lower-price options.

A small heart-shaped box that fits three to four pieces of chocolate costs $6.50; last year, the least expensive Valentine's Day box was twice as large and cost nearly $20, co-owner Mike Ashamalla said.

"We know that people still need their little indulgences, they still need to feel good about giving," he said, "but we do know everybody is cutting back a little bit and we wanted to be more sensitive to that and keep the price points lower."

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andrea.chang@latimes.com

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