My love language is food, and the numbers of Valentine’s Days past show that I am not alone. How that language is expressed, however, is a less predictable pattern this year. For that, Category Partners Powered by Nielsen is looking at the trends as well as the latest data to help determine the best buying strategy for Valentine’s week.
“While restaurants are beginning to re-open across the country, supermarket deli departments should anticipate even higher than normal sales increases to support Valentine’s Day celebrations,” Steve Lutz, Senior Vice President of Insights and Innovation, predicts. “The reality is many households will either face limited dining out options or consumers will opt out of restaurants completely due to safety concerns.”
With reduced out-of-home options, Category Partners Powered by Nielsen shares this suggests that deli departments should prepare for sales that exceed normal Valentine’s Day expectations.
“Basing sales expectations for Valentine’s Day on previous years’ history runs a significant risk of missing sales opportunities in this new COVID environment due to low and out-of-stock conditions,” Steve says.
Typically, the Valentine’s Day sales week reflects increased purchases of products that can be seen as “indulgences” or time-savers for consumers. For example, parfaits and cream gelatins jumped by 65 percent during Valentine’s Day week, according to the company’s data, and specialty desserts and gelatin also reflected the Valentine’s Day shift in consumer purchase behavior, jumping by 28 percent and 26 percent, respectively.
There also appears to be a lift generated among unique meals and high-value appetizers, Steve points out. Sushi sales jump during the holiday week, a category whose performance gain is among the largest in the deli department. Pasta, beef, complete meals, and main courses also seem to spike with the love-festooned holiday.
In fact, it seems nearly every aspect of the table might enjoy some halo from a retail perspective. Various deli drinks also reflect increased consumer indulgences during Valentine’s week. Products like dairy-based drinks, ready-to-drink teas, and smoothies all enjoy strong lift associated with Valentine’s Day events.
So, while some markets may enjoy an ease in restrictions in time for those Valentine reservations, it looks like cautious home meals should be accounted for in the buying strategy as well as the indulgence-driven February 14 approaches.