Columbia businesses see more spending on Valentines Day

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COLUMBIA - Residents are spending more time and money on buying gifts and getting themselves ready for a date night in February. 

An average shopper in the Midwest spends around $123.19 on Valentine’s Day — a 28% increase from last year, according to survey from the National Retail Federation.

Locally, a few Columbia salons said they have seen a spike in waxing reservations. 

Hannah Nelson, manager of European Wax Center, said the salon welcomed about 150 clients every day over the past week, with this weekend being the busiest in six months.  

“We brought on an extra girl for today and yesterday to be able to take on more reservations,” she said. “We are definitely fairly more busy than usual.”

The owner of Riversong Spa and Salon, Heather Jacobson, said waxing is usually one of the most popular services around this time of the year. She said her spa has been fully booked in the week leading up to Valentine's Day.

Another salon manager from a different salon said when it comes to waxing, the Brazilian is the most popular for women. 

“It may be because women are treating themselves to a service they have been curious about, but never tried,” Kirstin Bellman, salon manager of Dermistique Face & Body, said. “Or they could be giving their significant other a special treat. Whatever their reasons, their secrets are safe with us.”

Aside from waxing, candy is expected to be the No. 1 choice of gift for this Valentine’s Day, according to the federation's survey. The owner of the Candy Factory in downtown Columbia said candy is "a good sweet thing to give to someone."

“We have some dynamite candy makers in the Midwest," Atkinson said. 

Atkinson said his store has seen a growing number of online orders this year. 

“We are seeing a tremendous amount of repeat business as well as a lot of new customers,” Atkinson said. “People are either searching for us by name, or we are just resulting in Google searches.”

Atkinson said the website helps them reach a wider customer base nationwide.

“Each year, we ship out to all continental 48 states, but for chocolate covered strawberries, it’s usually been secluded to just the Midwest,” he said. “But now we are shipping out to New York, Delaware, Arizona, California, Washington, Oregon, Texas…”

According to the survey, 26 percent of Midwest customers plan to purchase gifts online for this Valentine’s Day.

European Wax Center now handles about 25 percent of its reservations online, said Nelson.

“So, if more people book online or on the app, then it’s less phone calls we have to take every day,” Nelson said. “It allows us to kind of focus our attention to the guests who are currently in the location.”