Valentine’s sales fall flat

Discount and free postage are typical offers from jewellery retailers close to Valentine's Day

Sales peak fails to arrive despite optimistic pre-trading forecasts.

Valentine’s Day did not give jewellery retailers a mid-February sales spike this year, despite optimistic forecasts. But trading was strong for the month with many retailers reporting year-on-year sales up by as much as 30%.

Planet Retail forecast that UK shoppers would spend £1.6bn on Valentine’s Day this year, a 2.4% rise on last year’s spending.

With value-obsessed shoppers expected to shun throwaway gifts such as fl owers this year, retail analyst MHE Retail said jewellers could benefi t from this shift in consumer mindset. MHE Retail chief executive George Wallis said: “People may be looking for more value so the traditional products that are leveraged up in price [such as flowers] may struggle. Chocolate, jewellery and lingerie will do better.”

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Also in favour of a strong trading period was the ocassion’s timing, with Valentine’s Day falling on a Sunday. Azendi put extra staff on at its stores over the weekend and Signet opened two pop-up shops at London train stations to cope with the
expected boom in footfall.

But for most jewellery retailers, these high expectations fell flat.“We didn’t have the usual peak this year,” said Dinny Hall of the eponymous jewellery retailer.

Fraser Hart Westfield store manager Anthony Fuller said the shop’s Valentine’s trading period was “a lot better” than last year, but added the store experienced a peak on the weekdays before and following Valentine’s Day, not the weekend as expected.

Argenteus said sales around Valentine’s Day were level with last year, with a Saturday spike at its London store but none at its Oxford stores.

Beaverbrooks echoed this reserved sentiment. Director Daniel Brown said: “Valentine’s as a trading period was OK for us, not raving and not distraught either.”

While these retailers did not register a Valentine’s peak, all businesses reported strong trading in February. Dinny Hall had a record month with sales at some of its stores up by as much as 12% and Argenteus reported an increase in the low single digits.

One retailer bucking the trend was Emson Haig, which said that Valentine’s sales at its stores in Lakeside and Loughton were up 30% year on year. Owner Dave Shone said: "Traditional Valentine’s Day gifts were not purchased and there was a shift away from diamond products to products such as Pandora.”

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