With love in the air and special deals on the shelves, local stores can be turned into one-stop solutions for those celebrating this festival of love this Valentine week.
Valentine’s Day or rather week comes with a welcome surge in the sale of items like chocolates, flowers, wine, gourmet foods, and special ingredients for homemade meals. Grocery stores often see a boost in sales for these products as customers prepare for intimate dinners or buy gifts for their loved ones.
The romantic week presents an immense opportunity for local stores to spread some cheer in this dull cold weather by decorating their store, introducing special discounts and bundle deals and stocking new products.
This week also comes with many last-minute shopping for both big and intimate dining at home as procrastinating customers rush to pick up gifts or ingredients or both for their celebrations. Local stores can rise to such occasions and be a savior for shoppers by keeping a wide range of chocolates, greeting cards, flowers (if possible), wines, ready-to-drink beverages and other gifting items.
In 2023, Valentine’s Day struggled to gain traction amid a cost-of-living crisis, Average consumer spending also dropped. Among those who did buy, 50 per cent said they bought fewer Valentine’s Day gifts this year because of financial concerns.
Despite the squeeze on purchasing power, there was incremental spend for Valentine’s Day and over the February half-term which helped lift value growths.
Attractive pricing around Valentine’s meal offers gave a boost to some discretionary categories which suggests that shoppers are still looking to trade up for special events and spend on treats and indulgences, provided they can make savings on everyday grocery items.
Industry data showed that retailers enjoyed a boost in sales last month benefiting from consumers buying gifts for Valentine’s Day. Like for like retail sales were up 4.9 per cent in February, against a 2.7 per cent increase for the same period in 2022, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.
PayPoint retailers’ data gives an interesting insight. Data collected across of 27,700 local convenience retail partners reveals heart-shaped Ferrero Rocher and Lindor boxes were also sought after, seeing a 1,133 per cent and 333 per cent increase in sales, respectively, on 14 February, compared to their daily average to date in 2021.
Additional brands to see their highest sales of the year on Valentine’s Day across the PayPoint network included Cadbury Roses Carton (+936 per cent), Moet Brut Imperial NV (+414 per cent), Oxford Landing Cabernet Sauvignon (+338 per cent), Cadbury Milk Tray (+300 per cent), Nestle Quality Street Carton (+300 per cent) Martini Prosecco Brut Doc (+268 per cent), Sharwood’s Lamb Biryani (+250 per cent), Bollinger NV Brut Champagne (+150 per cent), Babycham (+140 per cent), and Nestle After 8 Mints (+127 per cent).
Love is sweet
The “famous day of love” is a key time of year for the confectionery industry, as consumers increasingly seek high-quality yet affordable treats to mark the occasion with – whether a sweet treat to enjoy, or small gift for someone special.
On Valentine’s Day in the UK, the sale of chocolate experiences a significant surge, reflecting its status as a popular gift choice for this romantic occasion. While precise figures can vary yearly, millions of pounds are estimated to be spent on chocolate during the Valentine’s period.
In recent years, data suggests that the UK has seen a substantial increase in chocolate sales in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day. This includes many products, from luxury chocolate boxes and artisanal creations to more affordable and widely accessible chocolate treats.
Factors influencing this trend include marketing campaigns by chocolate brands, the traditional association of chocolate with romance, and the convenience of chocolate as a gift.
Last year, sales of Valentine’s chocolates surged on 13 February as couples left it to the last minute, data compiled by Reapp revealed. It was the highest sales value day of the four-week Valentine’s period with sales peaking at £1.4m – a 63 per cent uplift on the year before.
London was the region that splurged the most for chocolate over the 2023 Valentine’s period, with sales valuing over £1,380,000 for the four weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day. The North-West was second with £1,347,400 and Scotland third £1,174,470 – the same order as 2022.
Apart from the country’s top selling chocolate brands (Cadbury, Ferrero Rocher, M&M’s, Maltesers, Cadbury Twirl, Galaxy, Kit Kat, Cadbury Dairy Milk), Valentine’s week is a great time to explore new options.
HARIBO has unveiled its highly anticipated Valentine’s Day product line up for 2024. Tapping into seasonal spending habits, it has released its Heart Throbs range across stores nationwide.
The launch demonstrates how the brand is driving innovation in the confectionary category by using its unique position and iconic sweet pieces to create a seasonally relevant product design at Valentine’s that is popular with consumers. Combined with its reliably fruity flavour, these aspects make HARIBO a top choice for seasonal moments like Valentine’s Day.
With 69 per cent of consumers looking for new products in the sweet aisle, HARIBO’s eye catching Heart Throbs range will be sure to delight fans and encourage a sense of urgency to buy them.
“The HARIBO Heart Throbs range celebrates one of our most beloved sweet pieces and is a perfect fit for Valentine’s Day,” said Catherine Johnson, Category Strategy & Shopper Marketing Controller at HARIBO UK. “Being a clear fan favourite, we knew we had to bring them back for 2024 to help people celebrate the season whether to treat friends, family, or someone special. We’re excited to see them back on shelves, but hurry; they’re available for a limited time only”.
Lindt also has unveiled an exciting new addition with new Lindt Gold Bunny Salted Caramel and new Lindt Gold Bunny Salted Caramel Easter Egg. A wide range of Lindt Lindor and Lindt Gold Bunny Easter eggs are also available, perfect for Valentine gifting.
Nestlé Confectionery has unveiled the new Aero choco-hazelnut flavour sharing bar, bringing together Aero’s signature melt-in-your-mouth bubbles and the smooth, nutty flavour of hazelnut, to create a deliciously bubbly symphony. The Aero choco-hazelnut flavour 90g bar will also be available in a price marked pack.
In addition, Nestlé is also introducing an exciting launch for Aero Peppermint fans, a larger 145g sharing bar, perfectly designed to be enjoyed together with a loved one.
Retailers looking to expand their pick and mix range should head to confectionery wholesaler Hancocks as it is stocking up on new Kingsway favourites.
Stocked by Hancocks in its depots across the country and online, the Kingsway range has been a popular choice since it was first launched over 60 years ago.
The brands new pick and mix lines join around 200 other bulk bags for customers to choose from across the range, with Kingsway selling over two million bags of confectionery every year.
Another brand to consider stocking for some adventurous souls is recently-launched Tender-Choc, broccoli-infused chocolates. Each box of Tender-Choc contains nine handcrafted 72 per cent Ecuador origin dark chocolates, filled with an aptly green ganache made of real Tenderstem blended with fresh Dorset cream, and the addition of almond notes for a delectable but undoubtedly unique taste. The tender treats are hand-topped with artistic green splatters of chocolate, playfully nodding at the Tenderstem infusion within.
Love is high
Valentine’s week comes with a buzz in the alcohol aisle. Over the years, sparkling wine, champagne and other wine categories usually have been in great demand around this time.
Biggar and Leith is offering a selection of premium, eye-catching alcoholic gift packs, perfect for Valentine’s Day presents, for gifting to loved ones, and for those who enjoy a celebratory tipple.
Tim Dunlop, European commercial director, Biggar and Leith, states that consumers are on the lookout for products and gifts that offer something unique, out of the ordinary and bring the wow factor. It’s smart to stock up on versatile drinks gifts that are more timeless and can be enjoyed throughout the year.
“Alcoholic gift sets are always a hit for Valentine’s Day and can really add a sentimental touch when chosen with care. Quality and value are important, as is the story behind the brand, and all of our products have a unique background to them. Spirits can make a thoughtful and considered gift and can be matched to the personality and energy of the recipient, or can bring a sense of adventure from a far-flung place.
“Gift packs are great as planned or impulse purchases, for gifting to a loved one, and for serving at a romantic dinner in the home. They’re sure to bring a sense of occasion and luxury and delight the recipient on opening on 14th February,” Dunlop tells Asian Trader.
Shanky’s Whip is an Irish whiskey liqueur, distilled in County Cavan, and blended and bottled by Shanky and Shireman under bond in Ireland. Using a blend of Irish spirits and aged pot still whiskey, Shanky’s Whip uses the natural flavours of vanilla infused with caramel to create a dark and distinctive spirit. These flavours pair perfectly with chocolates and truffles, often gifted for Valentine’s Day, so a bottle of Shanky’s Whip makes a great gift idea.
Retailers should stock up on Shanky’s Whip branded gift packs which have a 700ml bottle and ceramic coffee mug gift pack, presented in a branded box decorated in the Shanky’s Whip font with the distinctive ostrich and rider image. Ideal items for Irish coffees, hot toddys and warming drinks. RRP £29.95
There’s a 700ml bottle and branded cocktail glass gift pack for longer drinks such as a Shanky’s Whip and cola or ginger beer. RRP £26.95
Butterfly Cannon is a range of three unique tequila expressions from Mexico. The most eye-catching variant is the Butterfly Cannon Blue, which changes colour to a dazzling violet in the glass when mixed with soda or tonic – a real party piece and a drink to wow and bring a sense of fun to Valentines’ Day celebrations.
Pink is a key colour for Valentine’s Day and Butterfly Cannon Rosa is infused with Mexican pink grapefruit, resulting in a bright summery rose-coloured tequila. It’s a silver tequila with a blend of grapefruit skin, agave, fresh citrus blossom, natural pulp flavour, with a rich agave taste.
Silver Cristallino brings a bright and crystal clear tequila, rich in flavour but not overwhelming, with warm aromas of roasted agave, oak and vanilla. This all-agave tequila is aged in barrels for up to 30 days before being charcoal filtered to produce a perfectly clear crisp tequila.
The Hotel Starlino range has been crafted to own the aperitivo occasion, which is gaining momentum and set to be a fixture in homes across the country this spring – with the Hugo Spritz leading the way in flavour trends on social media. There are four drinks in the range – three aperitivo liqueurs in elderflower, orange and rosé flavours, and an Italian Rosso Vermouth.
Hotel Starlino gift packs contain 750ml bottle of Orange or Rose aperitivo with a branded Starlino long stemmed purple glass presented in a striking purple box featuring classic cocktails and the Hotel Starlino’s signature serves on the back. RRP £28
Stambecco is an elegant range of Italian amaro and liqueurs and is available to retailers to add to spirits fixtures now. Shoppers can choose from two varieties – Maraschino Cherry Amaro and Tiramisu Liqueur – bringing contemporary, familiar flavours to the at-home drinks trolley.
Both varieties offer on-trend flavours to suit today’s discerning taste preferences and they’re sure to be hit with loved ones this Valentine’s Day, Dunlop told Asian Trader.
Gift packs are also available with 50ml miniature bottle of Stambecco Maraschino Cherry Amaro and matching branded glass Presented in an eye-catching white and blue box with serving suggestions and presentation ideas along the side. RRP £6
Coffee lovers will adore the Stambecco Tiramisu Liqueur gift pack, featuring a 700ml bottle and branded cocktail glass, all presented in a striking purple box. RRP £30
Yearly events like Valentine’s Day presents a perfect window to launch products in wine, beer and spirit section.
Lyme Bay Winery has recently launched its highly acclaimed Jack Ratt Lugger Rum portfolio in a new half-sized (35cl) long island shaped bottle. The move to offer Jack Ratt Lugger Rum in a smaller, more accessible size reflects the changing purchasing habits of consumers who are seeking lower price points and greater variety in their spirit choices.
A few months earlier, Lyme Bay Winery has launched two new mead flavours under its popular Jack Ratt Mead range in response to the increasing demand from consumers for more fruit-forward styles. The Jack Ratt Mead range has long been celebrated for its unique yet traditional meads, and the addition of Apple Mead and Strawberry Mead perfectly complements the existing line-up, providing customers with several versatile options.
Andrew Peace has expanded its UK portfolio of Australian wines and introduced 6 new skus.
The entire range will also benefit from two design propositions – Andrew Peace Black Label and Andrew Peace White Label. Andrew Peace Black Label includes a new-to-market Shiraz (11% abv) and Chardonnay (11% abv) in 75cl and 2.25l bag-in-box formats. Andrew Peace White Label includes the brand’s existing, popular 75cl Signature Shiraz and Chardonnay while introducing both wines in 1.5l BiB format.
The launches offer consumers a genuine choice of red and white wines made in the same style and to the same quality as the producer’s existing range
Super-premium vodka brand Cîroc has expanded into the ready-to-drink (RTD) category with the launch of two brand-new sparkling vodka drinks – Cîroc Summer Citrus and Cîroc Tropical Passion – available in 250ml formats across the grocery, wholesale and convenience channels.
Cîroc Summer Citrus and Cîroc Tropical Passion, both 5% ABV and RRP: £2.85, aim to give retailers an opportunity to tap into the macro trend for affordable indulgence and provide consumers with a sense of luxury when enjoying an RTD format.
Celebrating Cîroc’s most popular and highest performing innovations from the past few years, Cîroc Summer Citrus and Cîroc Tropical Passion will now be expertly mixed with deliciously sweet and sparkling lemonade in a convenient format, creating the perfect serve every time.
Further to announcing the relationship in October 2023, The Coca-Cola Company and Pernod Ricard have released Absolut Vodka & Sprite in Britain in the global launch of the new pre-mixed alcohol ready-to-drink cocktail, made with premium vodka, Absolut, and the loved lemon-lime sparkling soft drink, Sprite.
The design puts Absolut Vodka’s Iconic bottle shape front and centre, while the vibrant colour gradient reflects the perfect mix of Absolut’s smoothness with Sprite’s highly refreshing lemon and lime flavour.
Rolling out into wholesale and convenience in February and then nationwide across grocery from Spring, Absolut Vodka & Sprite 250ml cans at 5% ABV have an MRRP of £2.30 in GB and are sold in case sizes of 12.
Meanwhile, Heineken UK has unveiled Foster’s Proper Shandy, a brand-new variant from the UK’s third-largest beer brand. Delivering the ultimate combination of tasty and refreshing, the launch of Foster’s Proper Shandy (3% ABV) is perfectly timed to help retailers tap into the macro consumer trend of nostalgia, by offering a classic and much-loved British serve in a convenient format. The Shandy and Lager Top account for 4.5 per cent of all serves in the on trade – more than 193 million pints – and Foster’s Proper Shandy will enable consumers to enjoy a consistent quality Shandy serve at home.
“We are thrilled to be launching Foster’s Proper Shandy to the off trade, delivering something brand new into classic lager and reigniting interest in the category – not only for existing drinkers, but also to help recruit new ones,” Richard Barnes, marketing manager – Foster’s at Heineken UK, commented.
Cashing the love
The easing of inflation in the second half of 2023 should present greater opportunities for the 2024 event. As previously mentioned, consumers are looking for gifts that last longer, with 63 per cent willing to spend more on these when shopping for Valentine’s Day gifts.
Retailers can tap into the ‘feel good’ factor as a way to encourage spending. Mintel’s market analysis expects there to be a willingness to brighten moods after a difficult few years and many will use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to do this. Gifts that can bring emotional and mental benefits, such as chocolate or flowers, are likely to be popular.
During this week, make sure that stores are visually appealing, particularly near the entrance or high-traffic areas of your store. Use Valentine’s Day-themed decorations such as heart-shaped balloons, banners, and red or pink streamers to attract customers’ attention. Place Valentine’s Day products such as chocolates, candies, greeting cards, flowers, and small gifts in prominent locations or in themed display stands to showcase these items effectively.
Create pre-packaged gift bundles or baskets featuring popular Valentine’s Day items like chocolates, candies, and small plush toys. Display these gift packages near the checkout counter for customers looking for convenient last-minute gifts. Showcase snacks and beverages that are ideal for sharing or enjoying together as a couple. Consider featuring items like shareable bags of popcorn, gourmet chocolates, sparkling beverages, and wine or champagne.
Valentine’s can boost Food-to-go section too. Cater to customers seeking quick and convenient Valentine’s Day treats by prominently displaying grab-and-go items such as single-serve desserts, boxed chocolates, and pre-made gift bags near the checkout area.
Create a sense of urgency and excitement by offering limited-time promotions and discounts on select Valentine’s Day products. Make it easy for customers to turn their purchases into thoughtful presents for their loved ones by offering gift wrapping services or provide festive gift bags and tissue paper for customers purchasing Valentine’s Day gifts. Soft lighting and some romantic music can also add some charm.
As the economic outlook improves, opportunities around Valentine’s Day will grow more. Add enchanting savings and romantic surprises around every corner and see your cash register ringing.