Photo from Facebook
Photo from Facebook

COSTA RICA NEWS – While Costa Ricans have been quick to adopt North American holidays like Black Friday, not so much when it comes Valentine’s Day, known in Costa Rica (and Latin America) as “dia del amor y amistad” (day of love and friendship).

Unlike in the United States and Canada where Valentine’s Day gifts include jewellery, perfumes, sexy apparel, chocolates,  a dozen roses, etc., in Costa Rica retailers see sales increase in items like “peluches” (stuffed animals), balloons (globos) and flowers (not necessarily roses).

For the 2104 edition of Valentines in Costa Rica, retailers said that sales weren’t that impressive. Even the last minute sales, given Ticos (Costa Ricans) habitually leave all to the last minute, didn’t materialize.

“Sales are bad, hope in God they will improve (…) Now we only sell flower arrangements, we stopped selling flowers because vendedores (street vendors) have taken our customers,” Gina Guevara, a seasoned retailers in downtown San Jose told

For street vendors the situation was similar.

Although the street vendors typically tend to set up temporary shops in crowded locations like dowtown San Jose and other city centres, on Saturday temporary point of sales were set up at any high traffic – pedestrian and vehicular – point all around the country. However, the sales didn’t materialize as in past years. Nothing like on Mother’s Day (September 15 in Costa Rica).

“People want to pay the prices of 10 years ago. They want a rose of ¢1.000 colones (US$1.85), and don’t want to pay ¢2.000”, a vendor, one block from Plaza Mayor in the upper scale neighbourhood of Rohrmoser, told the Q.

In the malls, like in Multiplaza Escazú, stores weren’t racking up sales records. The few temporary kiosks selling the holiday gifts were limited to helium filled balloons (always a big hit in the country) and stuffed animals. In one jewellery store, facing the centre courtyard, sales staff stood idle as mall visitors took pictures with the “LOVE” display. Few were seen buying anything.

The lack of the retail spark on this holiday maybe due to several factors. Many in Costa Rica have lost their jobs in the past year, many were high paying jobs that allowed for discrepancy spending. Others may be worried about the financial situation and rising costs in general that is gripping the country. And perhaps, a more cynical reason, Costa Ricans are losing interest, strong passion or desire in spending on their significant other.

No matter the reason, Valentine’s Day in 2014 was a bust retail wise. Bars and restaurants didn’t fare that much better on this special day.

Oh well, there’s always next year.

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