We asked London’s business scene whether Valentine’s Day is a genius idea or just a commercial gimmick
Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day means a great deal to the UK economy. Research by the Centre for Economic and Business Research suggests that British singles contribute £3.4bn annually to the UK economy in their efforts to find love. But what does it mean to London?
Charlie Mullins, founder of Pimlico Plumbers: “As a plumbing company we’ve done pretty well over the years unblocking Jacuzzis people have managed to clog up with flowers and other random objects not usually associated with bathing.”
“People say it’s a bit too commercialised these days, but I disagree, sometimes by the middle of February we need a reason to cheer ourselves up with a bit of romance and flowers. In my book, with the end of winter almost in sight, any excuse to go out to dinner at a nice restaurant and cheer each other up is a valid one.
“From a commercial point of view you wouldn’t think it would do much for the economy, unless you’re in the restaurant, flower, or heart shaped cushion business, but maybe not. And if plumbers get a little boost post February 14, maybe there are a few other unexpected booms? Divorce lawyers perhaps, for those who get things all wrong?”
Brett Harding, founder of dating website Lovestruck.com: “Of course, every ‘special’ day in the 20th Century calendar is commercialised to the hilt, as you’d expect from a capitalist society.”
“When I happen to be in love, I celebrate Valentine’s Day. If I had to choose a no-expense-spared restaurant, it would involve us hopping on the Eurostar to the acclaimed Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee. (Nightcap included.)
“This day to celebrate love (or lust) has been in the calendar since the 14th Century, so its origins were (probably) sincere.
“It’s great for the dating industry as it provides singles with added impetus to meet someone special in January, so long may the tradition continue.”
Stephen Less, CEO of the Secrets table dancing Clubs: “Because Secrets Table-Dancing venues are well located all over London, we find that Valentine’s Day is particularly busy, both for people who are on their own, who need female company, or those wishing to treat their other half to something a little out of the ordinary and, either way, Secrets benefits.”
Hugh Chappell, director of the space sharing website, ParkatmyHouse.com: “Of course Valentine’s Day is over-hyped, however I am happy to participate!”
“On a personal level, and as a very happily married man, I find myself avoiding the card, flowers and candle-lit dinner routine since I have better ways of continually telling my wife I love her. We will have dinner tomorrow evening, however, and our 10 year old daughter will join us.
Alexandra Chong, founder, Luluvise: “I think the best way to celebrate is not to do the obvious stuff.”
“I’m spending Valentine’s Day with a group of my single girlfriends. I’ve just moved into a new apartment so I’ll be cooking for them. It’ll be “cheap and cheerful” and, I’m sure, there will be lots of wine and lots of good conversation.
“The idea for Luluvise came after a particularly interesting Valentine’s date that I discussed in great detail with my girlfriends. It was special because the guy had done some research into what kind of things I liked and what my favourite restaurant was at the time. His thoughtfulness made the evening that extra special. So, from a romantic perspective, I think the best way to celebrate is not to do the obvious stuff.
“If you’re looking to do something with friends on Valentine’s Day, I’m obviously in favour of a girl’s night. One of our interns wisely suggested a reservation at a restaurant that offers Valentine’s Day prix fixes — but for you and a friend — and I love that idea, too.”
Simon Prockter, founder and CEO of takeaway network Housebites: “Valentine’s Day is pressurising.”
“A lot of couples do go out for dinner at a time when restaurants put their prices up, often squeeze more tables in and you feel a bit like a sucker squashed in with all the other couples. It’s great to have a day when you can make your other half feel special but I’m not sure if eating out is the answer.
“Anyone that can cook has the perfect opportunity as the way to someones heart is very definitely often via the tummy. But if you can’t cook, Housebites is delivering delicious home cooked food so you can have that romantic atmosphere without having to share it with dozens of other couples and without the stress of cooking.”