777 drones form patterns and words that represent "love" to light up the sky as part of Chinese Valentine's Day celebrations in Changsha city in Hunan province. Photo: AFP

Love is in the air for China’s retailers. Anecdotal  ‘kiss and tell’ stories reveal that Chinese consumers went on a spending spree for Valentine’s Day, which fell on Aug. 17 this year.

Retail sales, while still strong, have suffered a dip in recent months, buffeted by a cooling economy and rising trade tensions between the United States and the world’s second-largest economy.

Still, data from the online shopping site Tmall.com, which is part of the massive Alibaba group, gave a glimpse into the spending habits of romantics.

“[The company] sold 120,000 handbags this week, up by 60% compared with the previous week,” the state-owned Global Times reported. “Jewelry brands also saw their sales rocket as the holiday neared, in some cases by as much as five times compared to normal days.”

Sales on new mini-apps embedded in WeChat, the social media site owned by Alibaba’s arch-rival, Tencent, have also been brisk.

Burberry joined other major luxury brands, such as Longchamp, Gucci, Michael Kors and Fendi, when it launched an official “WeChat mini-program,” for Valentine’s Day, which is also known as the Qixi Festival.

Last month, the British-based upmarket label reported sales of US$633 million in the first quarter of this year, a 3% increase compared to the same period in 2017, citing strong demand from US and Chinese markets.

Blue-chip brands are still expanding as the appetite for luxury products remains relatively strong.

Overall, retail sales came in at 3.07 trillion yuan ($450 billion) in July, which was a jump of 8.8% compared to the same period last year but down on June’s figure of 9%, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

“Generally speaking, spending power has been rising steadily in recent years, although the speed of growth [has now] slowed a bit,” Cong Yi, an economics professor at the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, said.

A hint of romance might help to change that at least for a day.