Retail Trends - February 2020

Get ready for big sales this February.

February means one big focus for most retailers: Valentine’s Day. But it seems the pool they’re advertising to may be shrinking. According to the last ten years of polling data by the NRF, Valentine’s Day spending is on the rise but the number of people celebrating the holiday is slowly decreasing. While this means the holiday drives tougher competition, it also means the price is all the more worth it!

While you can go with the traditional candy hearts and bouquets, Millennials and Gen Zers are also a large part of the celebration and they typically don’t go for run-of-the-mill gifts. To help you better connect with these celebrants, we’re covering trends influencing how young consumers plan to shop for February 14!

The purrrfect date

According to a study by the American Pet Products Association, Millennials account for more than a third of all pet owners in the United States, more than any other generation. For these consumers, holidays are a chance to dote on their furry pals.

The NRF shared that a quarter of those under the age of 35 planned to buy Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets in 2018. outspending older shoppers. To draw in pet parents, retailers like Chewy have begun to featuring Valentine’s Day sections on their websites with products like “I ruff you” treats and pink themed toys. Even Amazon is getting involved with Valentine’s Day gift guides for pet owners.

Sweets are for sharing

Younger consumers may have helped drive recent health and wellness trends (avocado toast, anyone?) but the data shows they still have a sweet tooth. Among celebrants aged 18 to 24, 69 percent plan to give candy this Valentine’s Day, compared with 55 percent of celebrants overall. Similarly, among those 25 to 34 years old, 62 percent plan to gift sweets. Of course, it helps if sweets look as good as they taste for Millennial and Gen Zers, and brands are introducing new launches perfect for sharing on social media. Target partnered with Skittles on an exclusive Valentine’s Day “Love Mix” and Nestlé is introducing a new pink Kit Kat bar made of ruby chocolate. Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme are both introducing special Valentine’s Day collections with heart-shaped doughnuts and pink and red sprinkles.

Motivation is the key

In a relatively recent NRF flash poll, 92 percent of consumers said they were willing to spend an extra $10 on Valentine’s Day. For this crowd, the most popular reason is an irresistible sale. The second most popular reason is if they found the perfect gift. 

There’s no reason that perfect gift can’t come from your store, so get those gift guides going! Create tailored recommendations for everyone from significant others to co-workers! You can also get creative with gift guides and feature products at specific price points or untraditional recipients (e.g. pets!).

The best love is self-love

While they may not be taking a date out to dinner or gifting the classic flowers and chocolate combo, many younger consumers still plan on partaking in Valentine’s Day revelry by indulging in self-care, treating themselves to gifts, or going out with friends. Brands like Lush and Birchbox have picked up on the self-love by creating self-gifting guides and recommendations.

Consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 make up a considerable portion of Valentine’s Day spending. While they may not all be spending on traditional gifts, there are still numerous ways for you to engage them.

Other February celebrations to note:


  • American Heart Month

  • Black History Month

February 2: Ground Hog Day, Superbowl Sunday

February 4: Thank a Mailman Day

February 9: National Pizza Day, Oscar Night 

February 12: Abraham Lincoln's Birthday

February 14: National Organ Donor Day

February 15: Singles Awareness Day, Susan B Anthony Day

February 17: President's Day 

February 18: National Drink Wine Day

February 22: George Washington's Birthday, National Margarita Day

February 25: Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday

February 26: Ash Wednesday

February 29: Leap Day

Bo Nguyen

Published 1/27/2020