Are We Falling Out of Love with Valentine’s Day?

Here at Escapade, my office pod at time of writing (!) is made up of one married, two single and two “taken” PR superstars… And interestingly, considering the even mix of relationship statuses, none of us have yet bought, written, sent, or received a Valentine’s Day card.

This should come as no surprise really, as the sale of Valentine’s Day cards have reported to have dropped a further 6% year on year in the UK. And according to The Telegraph today, it’s not just the card industry suffering, as chocolates and flowers are also on the decline, with year-on-year sales down 6% and 4% respectively.

Consumer analysts Mintel report that in 2017, just one in four Briton’s were expected to buy a Valentine’s Day card, compared to a third in 2016. Interesting however, it is thought that the overall market share for Valentine’s Day is growing steadily, from £430 million in 2014 to £460 million the following year, and is forecast to hit £470 million this year. The average amount spent on a gift last year was £41.73, which more than doubled for those in London to a pretty hefty £101.03! Clearly these guys haven’t heard about the £25 bunch of a hundred roses at Lidl…

So are we falling out of love with Valentine’s Day? Or are we as consumers wising up to the commercialism and hype, and simply opting for more thoughtful gifts and experiences? Professor Vincent Mitchell, a marketing expert at the Cass Business School, London, believes that consumers becoming more sophisticated and discerning, and consciously aim to steer clear of clichés. He said: “The age group who are courting are in their teens and 20s, who are more tech savvy and experimental, so they will be celebrating in different ways.”

This is illustrated with things like food sales anticipated to increase over the Valentine’s period, particularly for value retailers. Low-price German rivals Aldi and Lidl have seen a 15.1% and 18.9% surge respectively in February sales, year on year. Waitrose expect homemade brunch and breakfasts in bed to be popular, recording a six-fold increase in searches online for the Heston’s Perfect Scrambled Eggs recipe this week, and a 33% increase in searches for its Eggs Benedict recipe.

It seems that although Valentine’s Day is affecting those traditional “day of love” markets hard, actually, other markets seems to be jumping on the bandwagon and feeding consumer demand for something a little less run of the mill. In an age where we are all encourage to get in the kitchen and release our inner Jamie Oliver, for example, why would you choose to pay over the odds for a standard set menu course, in an average high street restaurant, where you will no doubt get ushered out the door just in time for cupid’s next arrival?

Valentine’s Day is a funny one, and its importance will vary from one person to the next. With overall market sales increasing however, we can safely assume that the love for 14th February certainly hasn’t weltered just yet…! We’re simply finding ways to express our love in a more creative and personal manner, beyond cards and chocolates.

P.S…. No cards, but we did receive a delicious, homemade heart shaped cake from our CEO’s wife. Cake is always appreciated, at anytime of the year! Thanks Alice!

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