Crisis-hit Valentines will always have Paris
By James Regan and Sophie Hardach
PARIS (Reuters Life!) - Parisians determined to celebrate St. Valentine's Day despite the global economic gloom turned to discounted gifts, one-off splurges and paper hearts.
Retailers have struggled to cope with diminished demand by cutting prices and extending the sales season. But Valentine shoppers willing to splurge on life's little luxuries and lingerie can still be found in the city of love.
"Buying a gift is a pleasure, it is not at all an obligation, and my choice is not going to be based on the price," said Laurent, a 32-year-old teacher browsing through the lingerie department of the elegant Galeries Lafayette.
Laurent, who was looking for a gift for his girlfriend, declined to give a surname in case she read about his shopping.
Karine Labrunie, a saleswoman at the Chantal Thomass section in the lingerie department which sells bras that can cost as much as 200 euros ($258.3), was similarly upbeat.
"There are still people coming. Maybe slightly fewer, but it is not catastrophic," she said.
Like other retailers across Paris, Chantal Thomass continued the discounts beyond the sales season, offering 15 percent off.
Such falling prices, combined with relaxed oil prices, have helped European consumer confidence improve despite the recession, surveys showed in January. Continued...