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February 14, 2011

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Price of true love on Valentine's Day

WHILE flowers sellers, chocolate retailers and restaurants should see business booming today, Valentine's Day lovebirds can expect to pay more for their love tokens this year.

The consumer price index, the main gauge of inflation, which has been rising, affects loving gestures as much as more mundane items.

And many businesses are also cashing in on demand on this most romantic of dates.

The price of roses has increased almost four-fold in recent days. A flower store on Maoming Road S. was set to charge 15 yuan (US$2.28) for a single red rose today, compared with 8 yuan over the weekend and 4 yuan earlier. Last year, the store sold roses for 3 yuan on standard days.

Meanwhile, delivery fees have been increasing as couriers struggle to find enough staff. Many migrant workers have not returned from the Spring Festival break.

Many western restaurants are fully booked for several rounds of candlelit dinners.

A restaurant on the Bund tripled the cost of its set menu for two to 1,000 yuan amid high demand. Some hotel reservation prices also doubled today, according to industry insiders.

To avoid hikes and ensure they got a booking, many couples chose to celebrate the festival last weekend.

Paul Wu, a local white-collar worker, celebrated Valentine's Day with his girlfriend yesterday as he was concerned it may be difficult for them to get a cab today.

Meanwhile, some innovative approaches to celebrating the festival without spending too much are on offer. The Shanghai Botanical Garden is inviting lovers to view its flowers and write wishes on cards this evening.

IT geeks are also able to show their love on various platforms. From 9pm to 9:30pm, Tencent microblog users can post love messages through their microblog accounts, which will be displayed on the LCD screen at the People's Square.

Almost all posted words will be displayed, with some retained for a longer period, according to Tencent. A similar service is being offered in six other cities.

By yesterday evening, more than 4.77 million posts related to Valentine's Day had been posted on Tencent microblog platforms. The service is supported by almost all smartphones and iPad.

Meanwhile, smartphone users can download Valentine's Day applications.

Users of iPhones can download "iWrite Love Poems" for love letters and "Creative Romantic Ideals" for Valentine's choices. Android phone users have the option of a "Valentine Scanner," allowing lovers to scan their fingers for "advice" on how to improve relationships.


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