By Lee Metters, Retail Client Partner at Awin
Valentine’s Day presents retailers with an opportunity to build a lasting love affair with customers, both old and new. Reported as the fifth largest spending event in the calendar year, it was predicted that UK customers would spend around £990 million on Valentine’s Day gifts in 2022, an annual increase of over 15%.
Whilst receiving a gift from your valentine can be an exciting experience, the pressure of picking the right gift doesn’t always spark the same amount of joy. The choices are endless: flowers, chocolates, a personalised card? Data tracked by Awin, the UK’s leading partnership platform, which measures online performance for over 1,000 brands, including multichannel and online-only retailers, suggests that consumer gifting behaviour might be changing, proffering new opportunities for different retailers.
How did Valentine’s Day shoppers choose to gift their loved one’s this year?
Floral purchases accounted for the largest share of gifts in the lead up to Valentine’s Day, with Awin tracking over 100,000 sales from Florist retailers, up +63% on the previous week. However, interestingly, overall floral purchases decreased by -15% vs. last year. Awin data suggests romantics explored other means of gifting one-another this Valentine’s Day.
The Erotic gifts category saw the biggest increase, over 1,000% vs last year, with daily performance seeing steady growth in the lead up the Valentine’s Day. With the nature of an Erotic purchase, online shopping has always tended to perform well, however, this growth might suggest a shift in Valentine’s Day gifting.
The Clothing category also witnessed year-on-year (YoY) online growth, with sales for both Menswear (+29%) and Womenswear (+27%) up for the week leading up to Valentine’s Day. This is despite the re-opening of high-street stores. Interestingly, Lingerie (-45%) performance took a steep decline, along with Jewellery (-16%) down vs. 2021. Recent research from Statista indicated 20% of women would not want to receive a lingerie set for Valentine’s Day, which suggests consumer associations with Valentine’s Day and gifting are shifting.
This year, Valentine’s Day gifting extended beyond shopping for partners. Pet Care sales increased up +41% for the week leading up to Valentine’s Day vs. the same period last year. With pet sales increasing throughout lockdown, this signals that our gifting behaviour might extend to the whole family in years to come.
Furthermore, Baby and Toddler purchases saw an increase of +36% vs. the same period last year. Perhaps, consumers are more conscious of selecting gifts that are practical opposed to traditional Valentine’s Day gifts. An increase in Health & Beauty products (+17%) also points towards at-home pampering experiences post-lockdown.
Valentine’s Day purchases also correspond with those seeking a relationship. Awin’s data recorded a +127% YoY increase in Dating app subscriptions in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day.
Last minute gifting: 7% of Valentine’s Day shoppers purchase gifts the day before
The daily sales chart below, combines the above-mentioned retail categories, and provides an indication of when shoppers purchased their Valentine’s Day gift. Peak sales performance occurred on 8th February, suggesting that, overall, Valentine’s Day shoppers were well organised.
However, a second, and perhaps more prominent spike on 13th February suggests that quite a few shoppers relied on a last-minute purchase. Interestingly, flowers accounted for a large proportion of last-minute buys with sales up almost 8% vs. 13th February 2021. Womenswear and Health and Beauty also witnessed a significant pre-Valentine’s Day uplift, both of which would typically see a stronger performance across the weekend.
A -24% decrease in online takeaway orders suggests Valentine’s Day lovers dined out on the 14th February.
Gifting doesn’t always have to take the form of a tangible product. Some lovers opt to wine and dine their valentine on February 14th. This year, the number of online food delivery orders on Valentine’s Day decreased by -24% YoY. Despite takeaway orders jumping +47% on the previous week, we can assume that customers opted to dine out this year with the re-opening of restaurants, bars and pubs.
What can retailers learn from the shift in Valentine’s Day gifting?
Performance across the retail landscape in the lead up to Valentine’s Day 2022 shows that customers are continuing to shop online during peak periods, even with the re-opening of high-street stores. Also evident is the change in consumer buying behaviour. A shift away from traditional seasonal gifting purchases has presented an opportunity for retailers in different gifting sub-sectors to take advantage and target customers, both old and new.
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