Japan Data

Hey, Big Chocolate Spenders: Japan’s Sweets Makers Enjoy Valentine’s Day Bounty


Early February is a boom time for Japanese chocolate makers.

Each February, stores in Japan festoon displays with hearts and chocolates. Back in 1958, manufacturer Mary’s Chocolate launched a campaign telling women that Valentine’s Day was a chance to confess their romantic feelings through a gift of chocolates. Other sweets makers followed suit, and by the late 1960s the custom had taken root. More recently, chocolates have come to steal the spotlight from Cupid in the Japanese celebration, as women increasingly buy chocolaty treats for friends, colleagues, or themselves.

In 2018, Japanese households spent ¥1,537 on average on chocolates in February, almost twice the overall monthly average.

Spending on chocolate typically rises from the start of February before dropping off quickly when Valentine’s Day is over.

Many consumers leave chocolate shopping to the last minute, and from 2005 to 2018 spending has been the highest on February 13 on 11 occasions. In 2018, procrastinators left chocolate shopping even later, with outlays peaking on Valentine’s Day. A possible factor to the uptick in late shopping is convenience stores and ekinaka shopping complexes in train stations increasingly offering high-quality chocolates, which encourage commuters to make impulse purchases.

Spending in the lead-up to Valentine’s Day each year also shows a general upward trend, bouncing back from occasional drops, as after the economic crisis of 2008. It has remained steady around ¥1,200 over the past four years.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

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