How Valentine’s Day Impacts Consumer Behavior

Pattern Data Science

February 3, 2022

Two years ago, Valentine’s Day marked the last major American Holiday before the COVID-19 pandemic upended the way we celebrate the biggest days of the year. Mere weeks after millions of Americans were out enjoying their usual romantic dinner of February 14th, restaurants around the country were shutting down and Americans were sheltering in place.

According to the National Retail Federation, Valentine’s Day 2021 saw big drops in the percentage of Americans planning on going out, and/or planning on buying a gift for the holiday. Although many did report they were planning on a nice romantic evening in.

Nearly 2 years after the start of the pandemic, with Valentine’s Day 2022 approaching, we wanted to dig into our data to learn more about how the pandemic might have impacted online demand for certain go-to gifts. Did fewer people going out result in more people shopping for online gifts?

If so, which types got the biggest bump? And how are things looking as we head into 2022? Keep reading to find out the answers to these questions and more.

Which types of Valentine’s Day gifts experienced the most online demand in 2021?

When it’s time to shop for your loved one on Valentine’s Day, there’s obviously countless types of gifts of every size, shape, and price point. But to keep things simple for this analysis, we decided to analyze some common search terms when it comes to online shopping for Valentine’s Day.

Here’s how demand for those terms stacked up during the week before Valentine’s Day last year:

There’s nobody who doesn’t like chocolate and candy come Valentine’s Day, so it’s no surprise that the two terms were the top two during the week before Valentine’s Day last year.

The rest of the top five—rose, candles, and flower–all saw similar levels of demand—although if you combine “flowers” and “flower” together, they’d see enough demand to edge out chocolate for the top overall term on the list.

Of course, this view shows us which items see the most overall demand, but it’s perhaps just as important to know which ones get the biggest Valentine’s Day bounce. So, we next compared demand for each category during the week before Valentine’s Day to the average weekly demand throughout the entire year:

Here we see that it’s Teddy Bears that actually receive the biggest Valentine’s Day boost, with demand increasing by a whopping 151% during the week before the holiday.

Lingerie and chocolate also got huge boosts, seeing demand more than double compared to the typical week during the rest of the year.

As you can see, every single item in our analysis gets at least a minor bump during the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, strengthening the notion that the holiday drives big business even online.

To underscore just how big Valentine’s Day is for these types of items, here’s a look at weekly demand for all the items in our analysis combined:

While these types of items are also popular during Mother’s Day and the Holidays, there’s no bigger week of the year for them than Valentine’s Day.

Now let’s take the same view for some of the individual items in our analysis.

There’s simply no bigger week of the year for chocolates than Valentine’s Day. Easter and Mother’s Day certainly move the needle, and most of the month of December saw people buying plenty of chocolate, but they all pale in comparison to the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day.

But, as we saw in the list above, the holiday is even bigger for Teddy Bears:

Demand starts to spike sharply in mid-January, reaching near double the weekly average during the week of Jan 31-Feb 6, and then peaking at 151% during the week leading up to Valentine’s Day.

The rest of the year sees almost no interest in Teddy Bears, with only the holidays bringing weekly demand above the annual average.

It’s a similar story for lingerie, which saw a similar steep ramp up in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, only to plummet immediately after. After mid-March, only the week before Halloween saw demand rise above the annual average.

Finally, here’s a combined look at the next three items that received the largest Valentine’s Day boost:

Roses got their biggest bump of the year during the week before Valentine’s Day, edging out Mother’s Day. Candy, meanwhile, also got its biggest single-week increase during Valentine’s Day, although October and December’s sustained increases make those Holidays a much larger driver of candy sales overall.

As for flowers, Valentine’s Day was good for the second largest week of the year, but Mother’s Day reigns supreme, tripling the boost in demand we saw over Valentine’s Day.

How has COVID-19 impacted online demand for Valentine’s Day gifts?

It’s clear that a lot of people went online to buy gifts for Valentine’s Day last year, but how did it compare to previous years? Did COVID-19 mean more people turned to online shopping to make the holiday more romantic? And if so, did some categories benefit more than others?

To find out we started by comparing demand during the week before Valentine’s Day in 2021 to that in 2020.

Demand for slippers was up 61% year-over-year in 2021, suggesting that the pandemic perhaps saw a record number of people looking to share comfy at-home gifts this year, especially when compared to last year’s pre-pandemic Valentine’s Day.

Candles saw demand up by 34% compared to 2020, perhaps due to the increase in people deciding to spend the night making a homemade candlelit dinner as opposed to going out to a fancy restaurant.

Interestingly, every item in our analysis saw demand rise during the week before Valentine’s Day in 2021 when compared to 2020 except for roses, which saw basically no year-over-year change.

To better understand how COVID-19 may have impacted demand on each of these items, let’s take an even closer look at a few.

A closer look at slippers reveals that Valentine’s Day doesn’t really appear to move the needle for this item in either year. However, it’s clear that COVID-19 did impact online demand for a new pair of slippers. Demand rose in the weeks following the initial lockdowns in March of 2020 as millions of Americans adjusted to a new work-from-home schedule where wearing slippers to a meeting became the new normal.

Once again, online demand for chocolate is clearly impacted by Valentine’s Day, both in 2020 and in 2021. Interestingly 2021 saw smaller increases in demand during Easter and Christmas compared to 2020, but there’s little doubt that the pandemic had more people turn to online shopping for all their chocolate needs on Valentine’s Day last year.

Like with slippers, the year-over-year increase in demand for candles seems to be more of a reflection of people purely buying more candles since the pandemic began.

Although there was a slight bump in demand during the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day in 2021, it would seem that there were enough couples who decided to opt for an at-home candlelit dinner in the face of restricted in-person dining to move the needle at least a little bit.

Online demand for lingerie appears to have been heavily impacted by COVID-19. Year-over-year demand was up big in January 2021, and got even bigger as Valentine’s Day approached.

This particular increase may have been more a result of a general shift to online shopping over in-person shopping during the pandemic as opposed to people being extra eager to buy lingerie last Valentine’s Day, but it’s difficult to say for certain.

A lesson for brands

After a closer look at each category, it’s clear that the pandemic has altered the way Americans shop online for Valentine’s Day. As we approach Valentine’s Day 2022, it’s difficult to say which of these trends will continue, and which might look entirely different.

Will more shoppers than ever be heading online to buy chocolates and roses? Are people eager to buy some new lingerie and book reservations for a fancy night out, or this be the year we see a huge surge in demand for candles and another cozy evening in?

Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how to forecast demand for their products on online marketplaces, and even inform product design and marketing strategy.

To stay up to date on consumer behavior and ecommerce news, info, and trend analyses, be sure to subscribe to Pattern Insights on the right.

And, if you’d like to learn more about how you can best leverage our data to help your brand win online, holiday or not, get a consultation today.

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Sept 27, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 27th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon drives renewable energy push with 71 new projects Amazon is planning to add 2.7 gigawatts of clean energy capacity through a couple of new projects as the company attempts to use 100% renewable energy by 2025. The ecommerce business will soon have a total of 329 renewable energy projects, generating 50,000 gigawatt hours of clean energy, which is equivalent to powering 4.6 million US homes every year. [Read more on Reuters](https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/amazon-drives-renewable-energy-push-with-71-new-projects-2022-09-21/) Amazon launches Prime Early Access Sale Amazon is launching a new 2-day shopping event for its Prime members only, beginning on the 11th of October. Across 15 countries, Prime customers will have access to the shopping event, with thousands of deals on offer globall, ranging from fashion to electronics to essentials. The event has the purpose of giving Prime users the chance to spread the cost of items over the winter months, 6 weeks ahead of Black Friday. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/26/prime-early-access-sale/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Shopify unveils new localisation tool Shopify is launching a new localisation tool, called Translate & Adapt, which works with Shopify Markets to offer localisation for sellers who are looking to expand into new markets. The tool translates a user’s online store into different languages, including product pages and information pages. Merchants are also able to create different shipping terms for each market using the new tool, which allows international expansion and offers a more localised consumer experience, unveiling new potential. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/shopify-launches-new-localisation-tool/) Etsy is set to invest hundreds of millions into its marketing platform Etsy CEO claims that the company is on route to spend more than $570 million USD on marketing this year. Even during a time of macroeconomic pressure, inflation and rising interest rates, the company is preparing itself and its sellers for the upcoming holiday season and is focused on retaining interest from buyers. [Read more on Yahoo News](https://uk.news.yahoo.com/etsy-600-million-on-marketing-ceo-154054219.html) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Meta looks to cut costs by 10% in the coming months Meta employees are facing job redundancies as the company plans to cut its costs by 10% over the next few months. Meta reported a 22% YoY increase in costs and expenses, totalling over $20 billion USD. The cuts are expected to come in the form of job redundancies as a result of department reorganisations rather than formal layoffs. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/22/meta-to-slash-costs-by-10-over-coming-months/) DHL teams up with Quadient to offer smart locker deliveries in the UK DHL and tech company, Quadient, have partnered to offer smart lockers parcel pick-up throughout the UK. The new contactless, secure locker stations will give recipients more choice and flexibility to receive their parcels at a time and location best suited to them. The partnership plans to install 500 locker stations across the country by the end of 2022. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/21/dhl-partners-with-quadient-to-offer-smart-locker-delivery/) The online fashion market is set to be worth nearly $170 billion USD in 2025 The European online fashion retail market is set to grow 50% by 2025, with an online turnover of $170 billion USD, which is 33% of the retail branch’s total. Cross-border marketplaces prove to be the largest drivers of this growth, with online websites and apps like Vinted largely pushing the market’s online growth. Zalando recently became the largest cross-border fashion retailer/marketplace, responsible for 11.7% of the online market’s share. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/online-fashion-market-worth-e175-billion-in-2025/)
Sept 20, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 20th September 2022

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Sept 13, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 13th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon scales back on US warehouse facilities Amazon is shutting down two facilities with 300 employees, discarding plans for 42 facilities, and delaying plans to open a further 21 buildings across the US. The ecommerce giant is scaling back on hiring as well as the expansion of its vast delivery network, as it was left with an excess of space following its rapid expansion during the pandemic. [Read more on Business Insider](https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-closes-2-facilities-scraps-plans-42-new-buildings-report-2022-9?r=US&IR=T) --- Other Marketplace News --- JD.com is ‘betting’ on ecommerce grocery market Amidst a slowing economy and a decline in ecommerce, Chinese ecommerce giant JD.com has increased its urgency to seek new growth engines. The company is looking to boost its online grocery business through offline partnerships and expansion into lower-tier cities, where it may be able to unleash more consumption power. [Read more on The Star](https://www.thestar.com.my/tech/tech-news/2022/09/08/chinese-ecommerce-giant-jdcom-bets-big-on-online-grocery-lower-tier-markets-amid-slowing-economy) Shopee shuts operations in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico Sea’s ecommerce arm, Shopee, has shut local operations in some LATAM countries but will continue to maintain cross-border operations in a few markets. Latin America is Sea’s most important region following South-east Asia, accounting for close to 19% of its revenue in 2021. The move away from these countries is largely due to increased levels of macro uncertainty and rising interest and inflation rates, and rather putting a focus on its core operations. [Read more on Straits Times](https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/seas-shopee-shuts-operations-in-argentina-chile-colombia-mexico-sources) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Instagram scales back in-stream shopping elements Instagram is re-examining its approach as it hasn’t been able to make ‘fetch’ happen. ‘Fetch’ in this context being the online shopping trends which have become all-consuming in China, and what Western social platforms have been hoping to add into their apps to make them more addictive and revenue-generating. Consumers have not been swayed by the latest shopping tools on TikTok and Instagram, leading to Instagram scaling back its in-stream shopping program. [Read more on SocialMediaToday](https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/instagram-scales-back-in-stream-shopping-elements-as-it-re-examines-its-app/631276/) FedEx Express supporting the growth of cross border ecommerce FedEx express has expanded its international commerce shipping service to four more markets across the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) region in an effort to support the strong development of ecommerce in this region. Three of the fastest growing markets, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam are leading Southeast Asia’s ecommerce sales, which is set to reach $100 billion by 2023. [Read more on Post & Parcel](https://postandparcel.info/149889/news/e-commerce/fedex-express-supports-the-growth-of-cross-border-e-commerce-within-the-amea-region/) India ramps up hiring as companies prepare for shoppers Ecommerce companies are getting ready for the festive season by rapidly expanding their temporary workforce. As ecommerce in India grows, the country is predicted to have 372 million online shoppers by the end of 2022. The festive season this year, running from October to December, is expected to see a two-fold increase in logistics and delivery alone. During this period, companies are predicted to add 20% more to their existing workforce base, with a 8-10% higher pay scale compared to last year. [Read more on Business Insider India](https://www.businessinsider.in/business/ecommerce/news/the-great-indian-festival-of-hiring-e-commerce-companies-gear-up-for-indias-shoppers/articleshow/94000346.cms)