February 9, 2016, 3:07 PM

Online Valentine’s Day sales hit their sweet, peak spot

Candy, jewelry, apparel and date nights will constitute a big chunk of the nearly $20 billion projected in Valentine’s Day sales, with online shoppers spending about 30% more than consumers in stores.

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Online sales in jewelry for Valentine’s Day will spike Wednesday, followed by e-commerce orders for flowers and other gifts on Thursday, according to the Adobe Digital Index.

Jewelry sales will be 168% higher than a typical day, with more than $13 million projected for that category online, and orders may require expedited shipping, Adobe says. Peak online sales for flowers and gifts will be 695% higher than usual on Thursday, with consumers spending more than $30 million.

More than a quarter of consumers will shop online for Valentine’s gifts, and one-third of those orders will be made from a tablet, according to data from surveys and reports by FatWallet, an online deals aggregation site. And online Valentine’s shoppers spend an average of 30% more than consumers who make purchases in stores, FatWallet says.

Total retail Valentine’s Day spending is projected to be almost $20 billion, and it’s a chance for retailers to leverage the first holiday of the year.

“It’s pretty undervalued as a holiday, but more is spent on Valentine’s Day than on Easter or the Super Bowl, and it’s trending upward,” says Austin Paley, director of corporate marketing at digital agency Blue Fountain Media. “Last year $142 was the average spend on Valentine’s Day, but in a survey about spending the month before, 76% of consumers said there were not going to spend more than $100. So they’re spending more than they intend,” he says.

Blue Fountain, using data from research firm eMarketer, found men spend more than women on their sweetheart: 2.3 times as much, so online retailer should focus their marketing efforts on men, Paley says.

Topping the Valentine’s Day wish list, eMarketer data finds, is a night out with their significant other, which 51% reported as their most-wanted gift. Also on the wish list: a smartphone (39%), chocolate (33%) and flowers (27%). (Percentages do not equal 100% because respondents could give more than one answer).

The National Retail Federation says candy dominates Valentine’s Day shopping lists, with 50% of U.S. consumers surveyed saying they plan to buy some this year, for $1.7 billion in candy sales. The NRF polled 7,293 consumers Jan. 5-12.

Consumers will buy more than candy, however. Adding flowers, jewelry, apparel and more to the gift list will bring average total Valentine’s Day spending to $146.84 this year, up 3.2% from $142.31 in 2015, the NRF says. Experiences—dinner, a movie or another event—also rank high among consumers surveyed, with 38.3% planning such a treat for the holiday and an estimated $4.5 billion spent. Total Valentine’s Day spending is expected to hit $19.7 billion, a survey high, up from $18.9 billion spent in 2015, the NRF says.

Department stores are expected to receive the most traffic, with 34.5% of survey respondents saying they will shop there, 31% at a discount store, 27.9% online, 19.4% will visit a florist, 19.1% a specialty store and 15.4% will patronize a small, local business. (Results do not equal 100% because respondents could give more than one answer).

Other NRF survey predictions include:

  • $4.4 billion will be spent on necklaces, earrings and other jewelry.
  • $2 billion will be spent on apparel.
  • $1.1 billion will be spent on greeting cards.
  • $1.9 billion will be spent on flowers.
  • $681 million will be spent on treats for pets.

EBay Inc.’s ebay for Charity is offering auctions that let consumer bid on the chance to win a double date with former stars of reality TV shows “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette.” Another auction features an “ultimate girls’ night out” with a trip to New York for the premier of the movie “How to be Single,” starring Rebel Wilson and Dakota Johnson. The auctions end Wednesday, and all proceeds go to the American Heart Association.

In India, Giftcart.com just launched a Valentine-themed e-commerce site, valentine.gifts, to give consumers options beyond flowers and candy, the e-retailers says. Gift choices include spa-themed baskets, messages in bottles, personalized jewelry and plush toys.

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