With COVID-19 Pandemic, Love Business is on a Crawl

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Glitz Valentine’s Day Focus

Vanessa Obioha looks at how the love business is faring in a pandemic era

This year’s Valentine’s Day celebration is in a different shade of red due to the enduring coronavirus pandemic. In a pre-pandemic era, the airwaves and billboards would be replete with irresistible valentine giveaways, sales discounts, fashion, and music shows, lavish candlelit dinners in exquisite restaurants as well as romantic getaways in a lush hotel.
But with the pandemic and the economic hardship, the love business is on a crawl.

“The recession and inflation are biting hard,” said fashion designer Feron Aaron, known for his indigenous Valentine Lingerie Show. “Unlike previous seasons when we received orders two weeks before Valentine’s Day, this year, we are hoping to see more last-minute purchases.”

Valentine-themed shows organisers are forced to either move their shows online or cancel as social distancing rules are still in place. Already, Feron kicked off his new lingerie collection campaign online on February 1. A single model was used for a photoshoot, donning the erotic see-through pieces Feron hopes will keep the embers of passion burning and improve positive body image. The images are uploaded on different social media platforms, sometimes accompanied by a video.

For Ayoola Sadare, the organiser of ‘Love is a Beautiful Thing,’ Valentine-themed music, and culinary experience, the show is cancelled for the year.
Although George Residence’s management, a hospitality group, and a subsidiary of IBIC Holdings was affected by the lockdown period of last year, it has since adapted to the lifestyle changes. It has put in place safety and health measures to ensure that clients who patronise their short lets still have that memorable feeling of “a home away from home,” said the Managing Director, Yangu George.

“One optimistic view of the pandemic is that individuals are now paying more attention to personal health and hygiene. As humans, we are created to adapt to circumstances and provide solutions that are sustainable. So indeed, the celebrations may take on a new hue, but we’ll adapt and forge ahead nevertheless,” he concluded.

With the limitations in social gatherings, most Valentine’s Day gift vendors are crowding the online space. Jerry Adeyeri, a public relations officer, said that he has been inundated by different vendors on his social media platforms.
“From pastries to sneakers to hair products,” he said. He eventually patronised the sneakers vendors.

“The pandemic would have been a better opportunity for local businesses to grow, but the unfriendly government policies are hindering their progress,” argued Feron. However, he said that fashion gift items such as fragrances, underwear will be in high demand this period.

But with the challenges of the pandemic still looming, is love even in the air? Are couples in the celebratory mood of Valentine’s Day, a day whose provenance is like a tree with many branches?
Sadare thinks so, even if it is marked with caution.
“Love is too beautiful and inexplicable to be stopped by a pandemic. The shows are only superficial means of love. They (shows) may not be in large droves, but people will celebrate love.”
His thoughts are echoed by relationship expert and founder of Trueflutter dating app, Dare Olatoye.

“Love would still be in the air on Valentine’s Day. The highest expression of love is sacrifice. We create something out of nothing, so regardless of the pandemic, people would still like to spend time going out for dinner and have fun memories.”

Going out this Valentine’s Day is however nightmarish for Adeyeri. He plans to take his fiancée to the cinemas.
“Considering that it falls on a Sunday, the plan is currently hovering around a cinema experience. However, I am worried about the crowd. It would be a nightmare. So, the backup plan is to Netflix and chill at home,” he said.

Anita Aiyudu-Adesiyan, who works with the MTV Staying Alive Foundation, is marking the love day indoors.
“Spending it at home since we’re still working remotely. I’m sending my husband a love breakfast tray with other gifts. I think we may also have a candlelit dinner and watch a cheesy movie later,” she gushed.

She has no clue yet what her husband would give her.
One of the effects of the pandemic generally on love and dating is the different perspectives it generated. Of course, the definition of love has been evolving over the years but “the pandemic has allowed people to reflect on life and what is most important. So a lot of people will shift from superficial love to genuine love,” said Sadare.

Olatoye voiced similar sentiments: “The pandemic has modified dating in so many ways. When you check the analytics on dating apps, the activity on apps has risen by 200 per cent. The pandemic has made people view life from a different perspective. People have had an epiphany, asking questions, and appreciating love and life more. People want to settle down, not only as a result of boredom but companionship.”

The pandemic may have threatened to shut down the love business, but one thing is certain: it couldn’t stop people from expressing and celebrating the famed Valentine’s Day. The best way to do this according to Olatoye is to “identify your partner’s needs, and that means a lot to the person. A gift doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s the thought that counts.”