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Comment: Valentine’s Day retail, where is the love?


I am a die hard romantic. It’s true – just ask Mrs Chatterley.

For example, she was thrilled with her Christmas present this year. I concede that the fact I had asked’s Facebook community for inspiration was not entirely endorsed as the correct methodology for seeking the perfect gift. But the end result certainly met with warm approval.

At, Valentine’s Day is not a huge event. Yes, we see a small hike in sales of fragrances, but nothing dramatic.

At this time of year we do step up online marketing spend to direct consumers who are looking for Valentine’s presents. And we create a special section for romantics on our website. And the effort is very much worthwhile – even if it is never going to result in a genuinely significant bump in our numbers.

Type in “Valentine’s Day presents” into Google and not a single fragrance retailer appears on the first page of search results.

I think people are much more likely to buy chocolates, flowers and cards for each other, than fragrances.

And I suspect that this year, Valentine’s Day is not an event that will trigger much additional spending. Now is not the time for lavish gifting – and while Christmas trading seemed to have held up – I am much less confident that Valentine’s Day will propel consumers into shops in nearly the same way. The economic conditions dictate that hunkering down and staying in will be the preferred options – not that Mrs Chatterley will necessarily be thrilled if I offer to cook dinner.

What has become apparent this year is that all sorts of companies are using Valentine’s Day as an excuse to launch another sale. Just a matter of days after January sales have ended, a new wave of discounting has been launched.

In the last week, I have seen Valentine Day sales offers from mobile phone networks (“stay in touch this Valentine’s Day”), insurance companies (“make sure your loved ones are looked after this Valentine’s Day”) and airlines (“fly away this Valentine’s Day) – to name but a few.

So it is clear that everybody is getting into the act. Is this a result of us Brits finally embracing the romantic idyll? I doubt it. Much more likely that it’s a result of retailers – both online and on the high street – being obliged to discount during this consumer recession.

Sorry if that isn’t very romantic – but to take any other view would be to look at the situation through rose-tinted glasses.

Aaron Chatterley is CEO of health & beauty e-tailer

Published on Wednesday 08 February by Editorial Assistant

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