eBay reveals UK‘s go-to panic purchases ahead of Valentine’s Day


With UK shoppers spending around £1.9bn on Valentine‘s Day celebrations this year, new insights released by eBay Advertising this week reveal that a significant proportion of this spend is “panic purchases” made by men in the three days before the 14 February. Dubbed “Red Friday”, today in particular will provide ample opportunity for brands, as typical shopping habits are disrupted in the pursuit of last-minute gifts.

In the three days before Valentine‘s Day 2014, eBay registered more than 18,000 unique user searches including the word “Valentine”. Even on Valentine‘s Eve, the country‘s men hadn‘t given up hope; shoppers were still making approximately five searches per minute for “Valentine” at 8pm on 13 February. On average, men made more than twice as many searches for women‘s fashion brands in this panic hour than for car parts – usually among the most frequent searches made by male shoppers on the site – highlighting the potential for marketers to capitalise on a temporary shift in the way this demographic shops.

eBay Advertising has identified two trends to help brands cash in on this lucrative last-minute splurge:

Secret shopping hours

Data from Valentine‘s shopping on eBay.co.uk last year reveals that gift-browsing prime time fell in mid-to-late evening, with men possibly waiting until their partners had gone to bed. And the more extravagant the gift, the greater the need for secrecy; “diamond” was the most popular search made by men during the antisocial hours of 4-5 am and 10 -11 pm on 12 February last year.

Taking things even closer to the wire, male shoppers made more than 6,000 searches for three top designer fashion brands between 5-6 am on 13 February, demonstrating an expanded “inspiration window” for brands able to capture their interest with relevant messages.

The eleventh hour extravaganza

On the final day before Valentine‘s Day last year, high-end women‘s gift items – including “cashmere”, “leather,” “diamond” and designer fashion brands – were among the top searches made by men on eBay, overtaking lower-budget products such as “shawl”, and “leotard.” This willingness to splurge on last-minute gifts – perhaps to make up for the lack of thought – represents a big opportunity for brands who can offer inspiration.

Phuong Nguyen, Director of eBay Advertising in the UK, commented: “Uplift in marketing activity rightly begins well before Valentines Day itself, but thousands of men who have left it late are opening their wallets in the final hours to make “panic purchases”. Inspiration is paramount during this unique shopping period – brands that are relevant and easy to interact stand the best chance of cashing in on the UK‘s sizable last-minute shopping budget.”


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