How can retailers woo shoppers on Valentine’s Day?

Valentine’s Day is an annual event that is more likely than most to get an eye roll from shoppers. Last year, more than half of consumers said Valentine’s Day is a waste of money, and 78% believed it had become too commercialised.

But does this cynicism really reflect a decline in the popularity of Valentine’s Day? Or are retailers driving disillusionment with over-the-top marketing efforts?

Ebay’s UK advertising sales director Rob Bassett says: “The behaviour of our 22 million active buyers in the UK and Ireland shows a movement away from more commercialised aspects of the event.”

The UK’s Valentine’s Day spend is approximately £1.6 billion, so retailers take a business-as-usual approach at their own risk.

Red Weekend

“Spending over Red Weekend – the weekend before Valentine’s Day on Ebay – gives us a good idea of what people are buying to mark the date.

“Last year, searches in our Art category were up by 60%, and searches in the Tickets category rose by 57%.

“In addition, interest in books and holidays spiked by 55% and 39% respectively, suggesting shoppers were seeking more unusual, imaginative gift ideas,” Bassett says.

“People haven’t stopped spending on Valentine’s Day, but they’re spending differently”

Rob Bassett, Ebay

He thinks retailers must be alive to this change.

“People haven’t stopped spending on Valentine’s Day, but they’re spending differently.

“This speaks to the broader consumer trend for more personalised, individual experiences, and actually opens up opportunities for more retailers – but only if they can pinpoint different shopper preferences and target with the right products at the right time.”

Bassett’s final tip is to remember the self-gifters: “Last year, women’s searches for handbags suddenly soared by 183% on Valentine’s Day afternoon, proving that for every absent or disappointing gift, there’s an opportunity to give a shopper what they really want.”