BMO Bank of Montreal
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BMO Bank of Montreal

February 13, 2012 14:53 ET

BMO: Retailers Counting on Strong Valentine's Day Spending to Bolster February Sales

However, economic uncertainty and slow job growth may restrain consumers.

- Most Canadians say 'I love you' with candy, flowers or jewellery.

- The love struck may be dining in this Valentine's Day.

- Saskatchewanians most romantic Canadians or just biggest spenders?

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 13, 2012) - Canadians might as well face it, they're addicted to love. Last year, consumer spending in Canada, leading up to Valentine's Day, increased solidly from 2010 to 2011, and retailers are counting on similarly strong sales this year, too.

According to recent data from BMO, retail consumer spending increased 9.25 per cent in the week leading up to Valentine's Day in 2011.

February 14 is usually one of the biggest gift-giving days of the year, but retailers could be disappointed this year.

"On average, Canadian retail sales see a seasonal fall of 4.5 per cent in February from January; however, sales of jewellery and watches have actually surged by 30 per cent over the past 16 years in the month," said BMO Economist, Jennifer Lee.

The business of love can be pretty sweet for some retailers. The categories that experienced the largest year-over-year jump in sales from 2010 to 2011 were candy (15 per cent), flowers (15 per cent) and jewellery (12 per cent).

Despite the historical lift, Ms Lee is cautious about forecasting a continuation of that trend. "It's quite possible we'll see consumers pare back their Valentine's Day spending relative to prior years due to the slowdown in the Canadian job market and continued uncertainty in global markets," she said.

Restaurants certainly didn't feel the love last year and may feel jilted again this Valentine's Day. Last year, love birds seemed to opt for an intimate -- and more affordable -- dinner at home as there was a 4 per cent decrease in Valentine's Day-related restaurant spending last year.

Regional romantics

  • Which love-struck Canadians go all out for their special Valentine? Saskatchewanians lead the rest of the country in spending (+19.30%) around Valentine's Day.

  • Lagging pretty far behind them are people from British Columbia and Newfoundland, where Valentine's Day spending decreased from 2010 to 2011 (-0.20 per cent and -0.62 respectively).

Credit cards remain the most preferred method of payment among Canadians for their Valentine purchases, with benefits such as purchase protection, extended warranties, zero liability and loyalty rewards.

BMO offers budget-smart strategies for Valentine's Day shoppers:

  • Only spend what you have - Just saw the perfect Valentine's Day gift, but don't have the cash in your pocket? You can put it on your credit card, which offers an immediate and convenient way to pay. But don't overextend yourself. Avoid interest costs by spending only what you know you'll have and can afford to pay back by the due date.
  • Earn extra rewards - Stretch the value of every dollar you spend by using a credit card with loyalty reward programs. Rewards earned on the BMO World Elite and BMO AIR MILES credit cards make travel, vacations, gift-giving and everyday living more affordable.
  • Use a pre-paid credit card to help keep your spending in check - A pre-paid credit card can be loaded with a pre-determined amount of money, so you'll only spend what you put on the card and there are no monthly bills or interest charges at the end of the month. A BMO prepaid card is accepted everywhere a regular BMO credit card is accepted and carries the added benefits of purchase protection, extended warranties, and zero liability.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly-diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $477 billion as at October 31, 2011, and more than 47,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

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