Want to cash in on the romance?
Stock up on gifts and put on the glitz!


So long Santa, here comes Cupid! Now’s the time to capitalize on Valentine’s Day by creating impactful, front-and-centre displays that tell customers your store is the place to go for all their Valentine’s Day shopping needs.

Although data supplied by Carlton Cards states that 60% of consumers purchase Valentine’s Day gifts the week before the holiday, it’s important to start merchandising early in order to keep the holiday top-of-mind for your customers.

According to retailers, it’s an ‘If you build it, they will come’ phenomenon; when customers are ready to buy, they’ll come to the well-decorated, well-stocked store.

Making her store a one-stop shopping destination really pays off for Cynthia Raby, frontshop manager for Shoppers Drug Mart in Regina, Saskatchewan. Raby and her staff start decorating for Valentine’s Day in mid-January, to keep the store looking attractive as soon after the Christmas rush as possible. “Valentine’s Day is one of the most fun holidays–it’s quick, easy and very profitable if you take the time to do it right.”

Raby converts the front corner of the store into a Valentine’s “boutique.” Glass towers decorated with red tissue paper are put up in the regular giftware and confectionery sections, perfect for featuring special Valentine’s Day merchandise like heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and plush–lots of plush. Cut-out metallic hearts are sprinkled everywhere, on shelves and tables, the floor, and over the merchandise itself.

“Giftware sales are huge for Valentine’s Day; especially candles,” she notes.

Raby also offers a “design your own basket” promotion, where gift baskets are custom-made and wrapped on the spot. To keep up with customer demand, she has extra staff on hand to ensure exceptional service. Another benefit of extra staff: more opportunities to help male customers with the sometimes baffling selection of cosmetic goods available.

If a simple box of chocolates is all that a customer requires, even this can be transformed into something special with giftwrap and ribbons at Raby’s store.

To truly make the store a one-stop shopping destination, Raby brings in cut flowers a couple of days before the holiday and displays them in the boutique.

“Since florist shops are so very busy at this time of year, people really appreciate being able to buy them here, quickly, and possibly with a little chocolate or gift item to go with them,” Raby explains. “They literally fly out the door every year–not only are they a fabulous profit-generator, they also contribute to our romantic, pretty decor.”

And decor means a lot to consumers, according to a study by Hershey Canada. Their research indicates that 72% of consumers buy confectionery from a specialized display. The study also reports that chocolate is the gift of choice for the holiday, and the number one location to purchase candy is the drugstore, chosen for its convenience.

Most customers, according to Hershey’s data, spend between $10 and $21 for a gift–they’re looking for quality, and price isn’t as much a consideration.

Hershey’s research also found that men tend to do their shopping at the very last minute, and a great majority look to the traditional red, heart-shaped box as their gift of choice. So be sure to have enough on hand to satisfy demand.

Women, on the other hand, are ‘planned shoppers’ who start planning Valentine’s Day purchases soon after Christmas, and who generally buy for family and friends, as well as that one special person. Be ready to grab their attention early and hold on to it with interesting signage and cross-merchandising. Try placing Valentine’s stickers and cards in the cosmetics section, and by the front cash register or place a display with cards and gift wrap in the confectionery aisle.

Valentine’s Day cards account for 92% of a retailer’s total Valentine’s Day sales, according to Carlton Cards, and more than one-third of Valentine’s Day cards are accompanied by a gift, resulting in a high demand for gift wrap.

And don’t underestimate the importance of kids. Create an outpost of Valentine’s tray packs, cards that children exchange at school. Carlton’s research suggests that 48% of kids exchange more than 35 cards each.

At Reynolds’ Pharmasave in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, frontstore manager Barry Whalen and his team take a lot of care when merchandising their store for Valentine’s Day. “It’s a great time of the year for generating extra profits,” says Whalen, whose philosophy is to sell the season, rather than simply selling seasonal products.

“Valentine’s Day merchandise isn’t limited to only one aisle–we put decorations, stickers and store-made signage in every aisle, including the dispensary,” says Whalen.

He also uses a colour printer to produce signs that promote a certain product, such as a scented body lotion, as a perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

Adds Whalen: “The more creative you get, the more success you’ll have.”