Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Deals and discounts in vogue this Valentine’s Day

February 12, 2010

rosesAs procrastinators (or those who were too busy shoveling last weekend) head out to find a perfect last-minute gift, they may be happy to hear that less is expected this Valentine’s Day. 

Most consumers in romantic relationships don’t plan to spend much, if anything, on Valentine’s Day gifts, according to a new survey from Accenture. That backs up the findings from a National Retail Federation survey, which found that U.S. couples planned to spend 6 percent less on each other this year.

Most respondents in Accenture’s survey said they only planned to spend up to $50 on gifts. Nearly 13 percent of women and 5.5 percent of men said they planned to spend nothing.  Kiplinger has some ideas for them.

Those who are buying may be more practical, as they fret about home prices, stock portfolios and job security.

“If there were a year that you would get your wife a small appliance with a dozen roses, this might be the year,” said Thomas Jacobson, global leader of Accenture’s pricing strategy practice.

Eighty-one percent of women and 66.9 percent of men said a discount or sale would be the most likely thing to influence them to buy a luxury item as a Valentine’s gift. Most people plan to buy items such as flowers, candy or cards.

Those hoping for a warmer reception from a luxurious item can also splurge less without losing favor.

“Heavy discounting isn’t de-luxing goods like it used to,” Jacobson said on Friday.

In the survey, 62.8 percent of respondents said a discount on a luxury item would positively affect their perception when buying a Valentine’s Day gift.

Still, he has seen those with incomes over $200,000 starting to ramp up spending again, perhaps feeling less guilty about driving around in a new sports car or showing off a pricey watch.

On the lower end of the spectrum, a variety of chains are trying to cash in on the less is more and last minute trends.  Milo.com says 60 percent of Valentine’s Day sales take place between Feb. 12 and Feb. 14, so there’s still time to shop.

Walgreens trained 26,000 beauty advisers to be personal shoppers and has a gift bag service — maybe that way it won’t look like guys ran to the drugstore for a $19.99 bunch of roses at the last minute.  Rite Aid, meanwhile, is touting cards, gift cards and perfume priced as low as $3.99.

(Reuters photo)

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