Valentine’s Day will be chocolatey

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Valentine’s Day will be chocolatey

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Japanese green-tea chocolate by Royce’ Chocolate. Provided by Shinsegae

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and retailers, including department stores, are offering events to tempt the love smitten into spending money on sweets and other gifts for their special someone. This year, chocolate is the main product of the day.

Shinsegae Department Store is holding an event that offers 13 different chocolate brands from Korea and other countries like Japan and Belgium. The retailer said that, over the past year, its buyers visited chocolate shops in hip areas like Hongdae in northern Seoul and Garosugil in southern Seoul and they’ve become spoiled by the variety.

“Based on our analysis, fresh handmade chocolates from Korea and Japan are gaining more popularity with consumers whereas in the past they preferred only well-known chocolate brands from Belgium and France,” said an official from Shinsegae Department Store.

In fact, sales of European chocolates are lackluster, while chocolates from Korea and Japan, such as Mary Chocolate and Charity Chocolate, have gained popularity. During last year’s Valentine’s Day event held at Shinsegae, sales of Richart Chocolate from France jumped only 7 percent compared to the previous year’s event, while sales of Charity Chocolate from Korea increased 57 percent and Mary Chocolate from Japan surged 110 percent.

This year, Shinsegae said it has exclusively invited Royce’ Chocolate from Japan to the event. Royce’ specializes in refrigerated chocolates from Hokkaido.

“Consumers today prefer fresh chocolates from Korea and Japan,” said Choi Bong-kyun, a buyer at Shinsegae Department Store. “It seems they’re looking for chocolates that are hard to get and not too common.”

Lotte Department Store is also holding a chocolate festival at its nationwide branches until Friday, selling chocolates, cakes and sweet wines. Meanwhile, Hyundai Department Store has invited 40 different chocolate and cake brands to an event of its own.

For consumers looking for more affordable chocolates, large discount stores are the places to go.

E-Mart, for example, is offering a special 50 percent discount on its chocolate items until today while Homeplus is offering consumers a buy-one-get-one-free event. Lotte Mart is also selling chocolates from Italy, Belgium, France and Germany at up to 50 percent discounts.

Chain restaurants and coffee shops are also offering special Valentine events. They are using social networking services like Facebook to grab consumers’ attention. Family restaurant TGI Friday’s, for example, is currently holding a promotion on its Facebook page, giving away a free three-course meal to those who post special love stories.

Ediya Coffee, a local coffee chain, is holding an event that gives away a free travel ticket worth 1 million won to the person who posts the best selfie by a couple holding an Ediya’s Cherry Berry Chocolate drink on its Facebook page.

BY LEE EUN-JOO [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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