2013 Valentine's Day Retail Sales Update


Ron Prescott, ISU Extension & Outreach, 515-294-5862, 515-450-8036 (c), rprescot@iastate.edu

Kristin Senty, communications, Department of Economics, 515-294-9849, ksenty@iastate.edu

2013 Valentine’s Day Retail Sales update

AMES, Iowa – Valentine’s Day sales are projected to increase this year by 3.9%, albeit at a slower growth rate than in past years. This is according to Ron Prescott, ISU, Extension & Outreach, Small Business and Retail Specialist.


Prescott says that Midwest consumers will impact retail sales for Valentine’s Day, with a weighted average of $101.18 per survey respondent. However, only 59.9% of Midwesterners will celebrate Valentine’s Day this year.  He says that even though we may not spend as much as other US regions, Midwesterners rank in first place when asked who they will shop for on Valentine’s Day.  Gifts for spouses rank 91.6% among those celebrating Valentine’s Day this year.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) survey, the age group that will spend the most on Valentine’s Day is 25-34 year olds, with 18-24 year olds in a close second place. These two age groups represent Generation X & Y, and marketing to them differs from the retailer’s experience with the Baby Boomer generation.  According to Kelly McDonald’s book, How to Market to People Not Like You, there are some distinct marketing strategies designed to attract these consumers this Valentine’s season.  These include the following:


  • Stress value, and consider pricing– There will be plenty of price comparisons made between in-store and on-line retailers.  Retailers are encouraged to know their online competition’s prices and shipping costs, to aid in making sales.
  • Connectivity– Generation Y is more connected than any other.  Retailers are encouraged to consider online sales strategies making use of Google, Facebook and Twitter.  Since over 73% of these consumers own either a smartphone or a tablet, and over 40% of them indicate that they will use these devices to research/compare prices, it is important for retailers to also be “connected” this Valentine’s Day holiday.

The NRF survey provided data indicating the types of gifts which will be purchased and how much may be spent this year.

  • 85%of this year’s Valentine’s Day shoppers will purchase candy and cards, totaling approximately $36.
  • 60%of this year’s Valentine’s Day shoppers will purchase candy and cards, and will take the additional step of including flowers and planning an evening out. This may cost an additional $97, totaling $133.
  • 25%of this year’s Valentine’s Day shoppers will purchase candy, cards, flowers, and an evening out, and will top off holiday shopping with the purchase of jewelry that may cost an additional $135, totaling $268.

As projected, Valentine’s Day sales should increase over last year’s, and are expected to be just above the National Retail Sales projection for 2013 of 3.4%. Whether consumers spend $36 or $268, Cupid and his associates may be quite busy this season.

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