Valentine’s Day spending set to rise in 2018

In 2017, an increase in average spend per person meant that sales of Valentine’s Day gifts overtook spending on Easter gifting. Valentine’s Day was worth an estimated £620 million to UK retailers in 2017 and we expect growth to continue in 2018. However, as perceptions of the seasonal event continue to be negative, retailers will need to work hard to drive sales growth in future, but there are plenty of opportunities to encourage spending. For more information see Mintel’s Seasonal Shopping (Spring/Summer) – UK, October 2017 and Supermarkets – UK, November 2017

What we've seen

  • Valentine’s Day is now the biggest UK retail event in the first half of the year in value terms.

  • In 2017, the event overtook Easter with sales growing 12.7% to £620 million.

  • The uplift in spending was driven by increased average spend per person.

  • Consumers spent an average of £60 per person on seasonal gifts for the event in 2017. 

Growth in spending set to continue

Mintel estimates that sales of Valentine’s Day gifts in the UK will rise 4.8% to £650 million in 2018. Although Valentine’s Day continues to be an important event in the retail calendar and continues to grow, this represents slower growth than we have seen in recent years as the event faces difficult comparisons against spending in 2017. In 2017, spending on Valentine’s Day gifts rose 12.7%, boosted by increased average spend per person. As the outlook for consumers in the UK looks increasingly challenging, we expect people to be more cautious in the seasonal purchasing and growth will be driven in part by rising inflation in core categories. Furthermore, we expect people to trade up as retailers continue to extend seasonal Valentine’s Day ranges with both premium and personalised gift options, tapping into an underlying demand for quality gifts.

Valentine’s Day spending in 2017

Mintel’s consumer research for Seasonal Shopping (Spring/Summer) – UK, October 2017 found that half (50%) of UK consumers spent money on Valentine’s Day in 2017. Although purchasing continues to be driven by gifting, the event also drives people to spend money on leisure activities, such as dining out or going away. Some 46% of consumers bought gift products, whilst a further 18% spent money on other things, like special food and going out. This means that people are more likely to spend money on leisure than they are for Easter, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day with dining out a particularly popular activity.

The most popular products bought continue to be traditional Valentine’s Day gifts, with 25% of consumers buying Valentine’s Day greetings cards, 20% buying chocolates and 19% buying flowers.

Purchasing is driven by men and older Millennials. In 2017, 53% of men bought Valentine’s Day gifts spending an average of £72, whilst 39% of women bought a gift and spent £44 on average. Meanwhile, older Millennials (28-37s) are the most active purchasers, with 60% buying gifts in 2017, spending £81 on average. To put that figure into context 59% of younger Millennials bought gifts but such consumers only spent £70 on average, whilst 46% of Generation X bought into the event, with an average spend of £49. These figures drop even more significantly amongst the older generations.

Opportunities in the market for 2018

There is overwhelming evidence that suggests that retailers are not being innovative enough in terms of gifting suggestions, with 53% of Valentine’s Day shoppers stating that they think retailers suggestions in the run-up to the spring/summer seasonal events (including Valentine’s Day) are boring. Although our research finds that men are the most active Valentine’s Day purchases, often spending significantly more on the event than their female counterparts, a further analysis of this data found that men who spent money on Valentine’s Day in 2017 are particularly tired with retailers’ suggestions in the build-up to the spring/summer events. This highlights a need for retailers to be more creative with their content ahead of Valentine’s Day, suggesting that products suggestions that go beyond the traditional assortment of lingerie, flowers and jewellery are likely to resonate.

Experiential products are one way to diversify gift suggestions. Not only are people more likely to spend money on leisure activities than any of the other spring/summer retail events, but more than half (55%) of Valentine’s Day shoppers also think experiences make better gifts than products. Retailers like Paperchase, John Lewis and Hotel Chocolat have increasingly been tapping into consumer desire for experiences, but this research suggests that there remain opportunities to promote experience in the run-up to Valentine’s Day. One way for the supermarkets to tap into this trend could be through meal kits. Research for Mintel’s Supermarkets – UK, November 2017 Report found that 34% of consumers think meal kits are a good alternative to eating out, rising to 48% of Millennials (18-37s). As 70% of Valentine’s Day consumers think hand-making a gift is more personal, supermarkets could use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to promote meal kits that encourage shoppers to make a special meal at home – particularly at a time when shoppers are feeling strapped for cash.

Mintel Trend Make It Mine discusses the growing demand for personalisation, aligning with consumer research that found that 59% of Valentine’s Day consumers think retailers should offer more options to personalise gifts. As such, retailers have an opportunity to drive higher value purchases by offering more opportunities for consumers to personalise gifts. Monogramming and engraving continue to gain momentum, particularly in the beauty and jewellery and watch markets, whilst customizable greetings cards continue to drive people to buy cards online. However, there remains an opportunity to offer more in-store, which would give shoppers a personal experience as well as a personalised gift.

What it means

  • As 78% Valentine’s Day consumers think the seasonal shopping events have become too commercialised, retailers will need to work hard to encourage spending.

  • Although growth is forecast to continue, consumer incomes are increasingly under pressure and this could impact discretionary seasonal spending.

  • Personalisation is a major opportunity to encourage higher value purchases, with both customizable products and personalised recommendations likely to resonate.

  • Retailers need to be more innovative in terms of product recommendations, with alternative gifting options likely to be popular with male Valentine’s Day shoppers.

  • The growing tendency for gift buyers to prefer experiences over products, combined with high leisure spending amongst Valentine’s Day consumers means there are also opportunities to drive sales with experiential gifts.

  • As 58% of Valentine’s Day consumers tend to shop for seasonal gifts in the week before the event, the final trading days before Valentine’s Day will be important for retailers. 

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