With less than a week until Valentine’s Day — the second most popular U.S. gift-giving holiday behind Christmas — researchers are already predicting how many people will shop online and what they will buy.
One study by Ernst & Young predicts that 29 percent of online shoppers — 11.3 million Americans — will make a Valentine’s Day purchase online this year, while another study by NPD Online Research predicts that 21 and 5 percent of shoppers will send flowers and chocolates online, respectively.
NPD also notes that despite the growing popularity of online greeting cards, shoppers plan to buy paper cards as well.
Online Shopping More Popular with Older Shoppers
The Ernst & Young study shows that 59 percent of the likely Valentine’s shoppers are men, and 41 percent are women. Of those men, the study claims that 64 percent are married, as compared to 56 percent of the women.
Valentine’s Day shopping on the Internet is less popular among younger shoppers, with only 21 percent below 30 years of age. The study reports that the largest group of buyers will be the 40 to 49 year-olds — which will complete 31 percent of the purchases — followed by 30 to 39 year-olds at 28 percent, and shoppers over 50 at 20 percent.
These buyers are not typically big spenders on the Internet, according to Ernst & Young’s figures, but they do value the efficiency that shopping online provides. More than two-thirds of online Valentine’s Day shoppers spent less than $1,000 (US$) online last year, the study reported.
Ernst & Young reports that perfume, flowers and jewelry are online shoppers’ most likely purchases, as is the case in the offline world. The study also reports that many Internet shoppers already have some experience with their purchases: 38 percent of those who plan to shop online have already purchased fragrances and cosmetics on the Internet, and 29 percent have previously purchased flowers.
Flowers Are On, Chocolates Are Off, Cards Are Both
NPD Online Research predicts that even though two-thirds of Internet users surveyed plan to send electronic greeting cards for Valentine’s Day — up from 55 percent who intended to do so last year — “the Internet does not seem to threaten traditional Valentine’s Day card and gift channels.”
According to NPD, 75 percent of all respondents say they plan to purchase traditional greeting cards for their Valentines, and 79 percent of those who plan to send e-greetings will use the Internet to double up on their card giving, rather than to avoid card stores entirely.
Bluemountain.com and Bluemountainarts.com are the top choices for electronic cards among those surveyed by NPD, with 63 percent choosing one of those sites, compared to 17 percent choosing egreetings.com.
For gift-giving, NPD says the Internet will be most popular among those sending flowers, while candy and chocolate will overwhelmingly come from retail stores. About 21 percent of survey respondents said they would use the Internet to order flowers, while 64 percent will go to a flower shop.
Only five percent will buy candy or chocolate online, with 93 percent saying they will go to a store.