Here’s how to maximise your Valentine’s Day sales

27 January 2022, 07:30 AM
  • Traditionally the time where boxes of chocolates and cut flowers shine, today’s customer wants all that and more
Here’s how to maximise your Valentine’s Day sales

As another January flies by, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Time to dust off your heart-shaped displays and bring your chocolates and gifting hampers to the fore once again.

While this one-day celebration doesn’t hold a candle to Christmas or Easter, it remains an important day in the fine food calendar. As subscribers to our Synergy buyer briefing newsletter will already know, last year was the biggest ever Valentine’s Day for food retail, with sales up £85m in the two weeks to 14th February compared to the previous year.

Despite this, Philip Linardos, co-founder and CEO of ShelfNow, told Speciality Food that many retailers are taking a cautious approach to the big day this year. “For many of our buyers, it’s business as usual, and a significant proportion of them are not planning anything that’s out of the ordinary this Valentine’s Day,” Philip said. “As footfall in venues has also continued to take a hit due to the impact of lockdown restrictions, many of our buyers have been spending cautiously ahead of the event. Interestingly, we have also found that many want to avoid ‘over ordering’ this year and several have said that they don’t want to be in a position where there is a surplus of stock that hasn’t been sold on Valentine’s Day.”

Going off-piste

While caution is to be expected in an unprecedented pandemic, are retailers that don’t change up their selection missing a trick? For instance, last year steaks were a hit with customers who wanted to enjoy a meal in while restaurants were closed. Retailers looking to build on this trend could create bespoke hampers complete with cook-your-own romantic meal kits, featuring a mix of food, drinks and homeware products.

Savvy cheesemongers can also benefit from a post-Veganuary dive back into all things cheese. Last year, Valentine’s Day themed cheeseboards that could be ordered online and sent directly to customers’ doors became a hit. With the likes of Godminster and Rowcliffe selling heart-shaped Cheddars, themed cheeseboards have never been easier to create. Indeed, Godminster predicts sales of its 200g hearts will be up a healthy 41% globally this February compared to 2021.

Shops with restaurants or cafés on site will also benefit from the lack of restrictions around indoor dining this year. With the passion for all things local going strong, chefs can make local ingredients the heroes of the meal – for instance, Tim Kitchen, executive chef at Crimple, a newly opened foodhall and restaurant in North Yorkshire, has created a menu showcasing ingredients from Harrogate. “Tim has created a modern and interesting menu which celebrates our love of local produce and we can’t wait to share it with our diners,” said Crimple’s owner Graham Watson.

A twist on traditional favourites

Of course, chocolate is always a safe bet for Valentine’s Day – but retailers can be creative here, too. Create easy, grab-and-go ‘for him’ and ‘for her’ themed git sets – but don’t forget about your single customers. With ‘self care’ and wellness trending, food and drink retailers can market products towards these demands, too.

Bundles can also be based around various different shopper desires. For example, feature a range of sustainable and ethical brands, like Summerdown Mint, Divine, or Doisy & Dam. Or why not create a vegan chocolate bundle or shine a spotlight on British-made brands? With Britain leading the way in chocolate innovation, there are plenty of small makers and free-from bars to choose from.

There is always a place in consumers’ baskets for the classics, and with the taste for comforting, nostalgic foods still running high, classic confections are certainly worth stocking this year. From special Valentine’s gift sets to hand-crafted, bean-to-bar buys, the love for fine food will certainly be in the air this year.

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