Retail

For Retailers, Love In The Air, And At The Register

Valentine's Day gifts

Valentine’s Day is rooted in love, in goat skins and fertility (go look it up).

For retailers, perhaps especially those luxury goods sellers weathering the storm of the coronavirus, Friday (Feb. 14) is and will be a day where the chimes of registers at brick-and-mortar checkouts and online signal the late stragglers toward romance and last-minute gifts.

Bloomberg reports that record spending on this holiday may give a lift to specialty retailers, as estimated by the National Retail Federation (NRF). Data from the federation show that spending will increase 32 percent year over year to $27.4 billion, up nicely from $20.7 billion. Part of the lift comes from a growing number of people who, according to an NRF survey, said they would buy presents for Valentine’s Day; the average amount spent per person also will be on the upswing, to $200.

“Valentine’s Day is a sentimental tradition, but gift-giving can be driven by the economy,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “The same strong employment numbers and higher wages that boosted [Christmas] holiday sales should make it easier to spend a little extra to say ‘I love you’ this year and to spread the gift-giving beyond just your significant other.”

In anecdotal evidence specific to the holiday, the newswire reported that 1-800-Flowers.com has said that it expects to deliver 18.5 million stems for the day, which is second only to Mother’s Day — and which represents 3.5 percent of the retailer’s annual sales.

Separately, the retail activity comes amid a measured approach to moving product out the door. As one analyst, Tim Vierengel of Northcoast Research, estimated, florists in particular are taking a “rational” view of promotional activity, which should help profits.

Might the love last a bit longer than this red letter day? In data released Friday, U.S. consumer sentiment for February, as measured by the University of Michigan, was higher than expected. The reading was 100.9, where economists had expected 99.5. Despite the coronavirus, assessment of economic conditions were unchanged from the previous month.

“Current personal finances as well as evaluations of the national economy each posted large gains,” said Richard Curtin, chief economist for the Surveys of Consumers, in a statement, and as relayed by CNBC. “Net gains in household income and wealth were reported more frequently in early February than at any prior time since 1960.” Only 7 percent cited the coronavirus as a concern when mentioning their economic expectations for the month.

For now, at least, love’s labor is not lost — certainly not when it comes to share of wallet.

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Call it the great tug-of-war. Fraudsters are teaming up to form elaborate rings that work in sync to launch account takeovers. Chris Tremont, EVP at Radius Bank, tells PYMNTS that financial institutions (FIs) can beat such highly organized fraudsters at their own game. In the July 2020 Preventing Financial Crimes Playbook, Tremont lays out how.

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