What will bankers be buying their friends and families for Easter this year? The answer, predictably, is not the Walmart $24 Hoppy Easter Bucket, or Tesco's £5 Easter basket. The answer, in some cases, is delicious handmade high-end chocolates fashioned by the world's finest chocolatiers.
"Everything in our City shop sells out at Easter," said Paul Young, founder of Paul A Young Fine Chocolates, which sells handmade chocolate from a shop in London's Royal Exchange in the City of London. "Last year we kept making and making and people kept buying and buying,' said Young. "People working in the City don't hold back at Easter - they've been working hard and want to indulge. And they have the money to spend."
Among his seasonal delectations, Young offers a £75 ($114) 'signature egg' filled with salted caramels. He also sells small hen egg-sized chocolate eggs filled with caramel for £19.95. "We're selling loads of these in the City right now," he told us.
Alex Yezril, director of La Maison Du Chocolat, which operates shops in London, Wall Street and Hong Kong, said their shops are selling out of specific Easter products too. "This year our theme is the lamb figurine. It's handmade with curly wool made completely of chocolate. It's been a tremendous success and we're completely sold out in London and has been very popular in New York," Yezril said. "We also offer hand-assembled eggs and nest boxes of chocolates." Maison Du Chocolat's lambs retail at £58 ($88) for one, or £116 ($176) for two. The shop's largest Easter eggs cost £58.
Hong Kong's chocolatiers say Easter is becoming a bigger celebration for both expat bankers and Chinese nationals. "We have a good mix of Chinese and Westerners buying the Easter items," said Lamey Chang, of Peninsula Merchandising - a subsidiary of the Peninsula Hotels in Hong Kong and Shanghai, which sells a range of chocolates both online and in its local boutiques. Peninsula's Easter basket, costing a reasonable HD520 ($67) is almost sold out, Chang said.
Not everyone agrees that bankers are big buyers of expensive Easter items, however. Joe Guiliano, co-founder of Christopher Norman Chocolates, which was based near Wall Street for nine years before recently relocating to Hudson NY, said bankers are careful with their Easter outlays and are more likely to spend big chocolate money for Valentine's Day. Either way, they don't usually spend much, he said. "Wall Street bankers just aren't big buyers of very high end chocolate," said Guiliano. "They're not prepared to spend the money and they want things for free - they're happy to have the chocolates if they're buying them on expenses, but are less happy to pay for them themselves."
Is this true? One senior banker we spoke to in London said he would not be bulk buying knockdown £1 eggs from Tesco this Christmas. Nor would he be buying a £75 signature egg. "My wife buys all the Easter eggs," he confessed. "I might buy her a special egg if I'm feeling guilty. My children are quite normal - they just want a big Yorkie egg," he added.