As lovers around the world prepare to spend billions of dollars on pampering their significant others, some conflicting assessments have emerged about Namibia’s willingness to participate in the worldwide craze that many have deemed as nothing more than a money-making scheme.
It is Valentine’s Day today and while some florists and gift shops around the country say the “lover’s market” is doing well, others have bemoaned the slow pace of sales and the tendency of “our people” to wait until the last minute to place their orders.
The first Valentine’s Day apparently took place in the year 496 and is said to be based on an ancient tradition thought to have originated from a Roman festival called Lupercalia. These days, Valentine’s Day is synonymous with extravagance, which many couples indulge in perhaps as a sign of the strength of their relationship. This extravagance is the hook that many retailers rely on to bring in extra profits on this day that has been labelled as a day for lovers.
“We are extremely busy today and the initial estimates are that people are spending a lot more than they did last year,” said Nicolene van der Merwe, manager at Flower Love in Windhoek.
“So far it is going well but I don’t have the time for this (conversation) today,” said someone from Blumen Margot before hanging up the phone as an indication of how busy they actually are. A number of florists in Windhoek responded in a similar fashion to indicate how hard they were working on getting deliveries out to all who use this day to proclaim their undying love for their partner.
However, business seemed slightly slower in Oshakati where the manager of Kasikili Florists, Evelisa Hamunyela, said: “Our people have this culture of always waiting for the last minute to place their orders. This is why it is difficult to judge how we are doing in terms of sales, although I would say that overall the (flower) market is doing well.”
Another northern florist, Petals Delight, conveyed the same sentiment: the fact that it was still too early to tell how this year’s sales compare to last year. Owner of Petals Delight, Kaarna Hamalwa, noted: “You know our people … many of the orders will only come through late this afternoon.”
She added however that customers for Valentine’s Day have started moving away from flowers and instead prefer hampers that contain an array of goodies, from biltong to chocolates to cookies. “Generally, sales are doing better because our clientele has grown but I am still not totally satisfied with the overall number,” said Hamalwa.
Meanwhile, Sylvia Shoikuti, owner of an Outapi-based gift shop, Mwaas Exclusive Creations, doesn’t even sell flowers but also capitalised on Valentine’s Day by selling gift hampers and biscuits to mark the occasion. “So far it is going well and because I advertised early I have been getting orders from all over the country. We are definitely doing better than last year,” she said.