I hope that this year’s Valentine’s Day was the culmination of a successful trading period for all retailing readers of ETO. It should have been – Verdict Research, the retail arm of business information company Datamonitor, predicted that British consumers would spend over £334m on Valentine gifts this year.
The traditional staples were well represented, with £107.2m expected to go on flowers, £89.1m on jewellery and a surprisingly low £55.4m on chocolates.
Adult products no doubt contributed significantly to the £82.5m that the company estimated would be spent on ‘other gifts’ and we would expect lingerie to have become a more popular choice with each passing year. Figures recently released by Debenhams appear to confirm this – in the run up to Valentine’s week, luxury lingerie brands Reger by Janet Reger and Floozie by Frost French saw an 18% increase from 2008 to 2009 and a further 26% increase in 2010.
This shouldn’t be too surprising, given the constant talk of cutbacks and job losses, as Sharon Webb, head of design at Debenhams explained: “Lingerie is for love on a budget. It really is the gift that keeps giving. Men know that presenting a loved one with lingerie conveys a powerful message which gets straight to the point – for little outlay.”
What was really noticeable about 2011’s St Valentine’s Day was how many mainstream retailers jumped on the ‘love’ bandwagon and rode it as far as they could. From what I could see, all the major supermarket chains had larger than ever dedicated in-store Valentine displays and many of them took out full page ads in the national press promoting various love-themed offers.
Perhaps the most imaginative Valentine cash-in came from one of the most unlikely sources though – Ginsters. The Cornish pasty maker unveiled a limited edition heart-shaped pasty on the day itself – because nothing says romance like industrial minced beef and chopped root vegetables. Regardless of how many £2.99 ‘love pasties’ were sold, you’ve just got to doff your cap to the company for its creative exploitation of the occasion.