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Consumers skimping on Valentines Day

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Saturday February 14, 2009 )

I’m a bit late on this one I guess, but anyway. If your business depends on Valentines day and you’ve noticed a dip in the amount folks were spending; according to a recent survey the problem may not be on your end.

The National Retail Federation’s 2009 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGresearch late last month, found that people planned to spend on average $20 less on Valentine’s gifts and merchandise than last year.

The survey of over 8,000 people also found that 35.7% of people were going to buy the old favorite – flowers. More people said they would greeting cards this year than last (58.0% vs. 56.8% in 2008) and gift card/gift certificates would comprise around 11% of purchases.

I spent what I usually do. $0. Valentine’s Day to me is one of the most loathsome of Hallmark Holidays – it just causes way too much angst in people. Most people don’t even know its roots. This year, I got quite a shock when I received a electronic Valentines Day card as most people who know me know what I think about the day. Who was the secret admirer? My telecommunications company :). That interruption took 15 seconds of my life I’ll never get back and it only served to reaffirm my feelings about the day (and my telco).

I think merchants really need to get a little more inventive rather than relying so much on Hallmark Holidays to generate additional revenue – it really creates a scenario of having too many eggs in one basket that can be upset by events such as the current economic crisis. If the cream of a business is focused around a single day, that can be a recipe for disaster.

Events such as Valentine’s day can be somewhat counterproductive – you buy your “significant other” a bunch of flowers and hey presto, your romantic obligations for the year are fulfilled.

Perhaps something like a subscription service for discounted flowers where each month your wife/girlfriend/whatever receives a bouquet may work well? In the case of flowers, it may also help with dealing with excess stock of a particular type as waste can be a major issue in that industry. As always, in an economy where dollars are tight, coupons can also be an excellent marketing tool.

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