Online retailers could miss out on Valentine’s Day sales, warns Barclaycard

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Barclaycard data suggests that online retailers could miss out on one of the biggest trading periods of the year as a last minute in-store shopping rush is expected on Valentine’s Day this Sunday.

More than a third (36%) of shoppers plan to leave their Valentine’s purchases to 14 February, meaning impulse buyers are likely to shop in-store rather than online to buy gifts for their loved ones.

Data from 2015 shows that as Valentine’s Day occurred on a Saturday, year-on-year spending on 14 February was up significantly as shoppers rushed out to make last minute buys on the high street. This trend is expected to be replicated this year, with Valentine’s Day falling on a Sunday – meaning ecommerce-only retailers stand to lose out on vital sales if they do not use the week ahead to entice shoppers to buy online.

Spending on flowers jumped 280% on 14 February 2015 compared to 14 February 2014 when Valentine’s Day was on a Friday, as gift-buyers took advantage of the weekend to buy bouquets on the day itself. Similarly, year-on-year confectionery purchases were up 68% and cosmetic purchases jumped 51%.

With two in five (40%) of Valentine’s Day shoppers yet to buy gifts for their loved ones, however, there is still time for savvy ecommerce retailers to buck this trend by offering targeted incentives and promotions to entice shoppers to both save money and avoid the queues in stores.

Barclaycard’s research shows that introducing exclusive online reductions and promotions could help boost consumer spending over the next week, as over a third (38%) of shoppers admit they would be swayed by discounting when looking for a gift for their loved one.

The opportunity to drive online sales over the course of the next week is greatest among 18-24 year olds with over a third (36%) expecting to choose the web over the high street to buy gifts this Valentine’s Day, compared to just one in 10 (11%) over 55s.

Top spend categories on Saturday 14 February 2015  (Percentage increase on Friday 14 February 2014)
1.      Flowers 280%
2.      Confectionery 68%
3.      Cosmetics 51%
4.      Jewellery 39%
5.      Restaurants 31%

Philip McHugh, CEO of Barclaycard Business Solutions, said: “Over the course of the last year we have seen online shopping continue to grow, with total ecommerce spending up 14% in 2015 and online spend now accounting for around a quarter of all retail spend. Valentine’s Day is no exception to this trend and, with a significant proportion of consumers yet to make their purchases, ecommerce retailers have a real opportunity over the next week to capture the hearts of shoppers as they search for that perfect gift for a loved one.

“February 14th is a lucrative peak in the year for consumer spending, and with last minute shoppers more likely to pick up presents in-store over the weekend, it is especially important ecommerce retailers focus on driving sales online now. Merchants who are successful in providing a seamless shopping experience in the run-up to key commercial dates such as Valentine’s Day are far more likely to drive repeat custom throughout the rest of the year.”