Interesting Facts About Valentine’s Day: Retail Edition

Interesting Facts About Valentine’s Day: Retail Edition

That time of year is upon us again. Yes…it’s Valentine’s Day! It’s such an interesting shopping holiday [majority of shopping is done in the six days leading up to and including the day of], stores are bleeding pink and red everywhere you look. I thought I would share some interesting and fun facts facts about this unique holiday some of which directly impacts our industry:


-There are various stories about how where/when this “holiday” originated, but the most popular – from what I can find is…Valentine’s Day started from a story is about a young Roman priest named Saint Valentinus who secretly performed matrimonial ceremonies of the soldiers belonging to Claudius II. Claudius II had forbidden his soldiers from marrying fearing that they might not be able to concentrate on fighting wars. Saint Valentinus was hanged/beheaded on 14th February 269 or 270 A.D. and since then the day is celebrated every year.

-Romans celebrated a festival between February 13th to February 15th called Lupercalia, that honored the gods Lupercus and Faunus, as well as the legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. Pope Gelasius established Valentine’s Day in A.D. 500 in an attempt to appropriate the ancient pagan Roman purification and fertility festival, Lupercalia, into mainstream religion;

-In the Middle Ages the names of young men and women were drawn from a bowl and were declared each others “valentines”. These names were then pinned to their sleeves for everyone to witness for one week. That’s how the famous expression, “to wear your heart on your sleeve” originated;

-During medieval times girls ate bizarre foods as they believed that this would enable them to meet their future spouse in their dreams on this day;

-Many people believe the “X” symbol became synonymous with the kiss in medieval times. People who couldn’t write their names signed in front of a witness with an X. The X was then kissed to show their sincerity;

-A kiss on Valentine’s Day is said to bring good luck all year;

-In 1537, England’s King Henry VII officially declared Feb. 14 the holiday of St. Valentine’s Day;

-The British Library in London holds the oldest known surviving valentine, a poem composed in French in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orléans to his wife, which he sent while imprisoned in the Tower of London

Original Valentine from 1400's

-Every Valentine’s Day, the Italian city of Verona, where Shakespeare’s lovers Romeo and Juliet lived, receives about 1,000 letters addressed to Juliet;

Esther Howland (1828-1904) was the first person to create Valentine’s Cards to sell in the United States. She first patented a lacy [“lace” comes from the Latin laques, meaning “to snare or net,” as in to catch a person’s heart] Valentine in 1844—and by 1860, her factory was selling thousands of Valentines, earning over $100,000 [that’s about $2,160,000 today];

-Annually 189,000,000 flowers are sold in US on Valentine’s Day, 110,000,000 of those sold are red;

Meaning of Roses
Meaning of Roses

-In 1861 or 1868, Richard Cadbury introduced the first box of chocolate exclusively for Valentine’s Day;

Casanova, well known as “The World’s Greatest Lover,” ate chocolate to make him virile;

-Physicians in the 1800s commonly advised their patients to eat chocolate to calm their pining for lost love;

-46% of Americans will exchange Valentine’s Day candy [but 67% of Americans are overweight or obese – so maybe consider something else];

-Each year more than 35,000,0000 heart shaped chocolate boxes are sold particularly for this day out of which chocolate worth $1,000,000,000 are purchased in the US alone;

-On average we see a 97% increase to the cost of roses on Valentine’s Day as compared to other times of the year;

-Over 50% of all Valentine’s Day cards are purchased in the six days prior to the holiday, making Valentine’s Day a procrastinator’s delight;

-During this holiday’s shopping window of February 7th to 13th, the average shopper spent $143 in 2015: The largest spending age group is predicted to be 25 to 34 year olds, followed by 35 to 44 year olds;

White Castle is offering reservations for Valentine’s Day;

-According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 11% of people will buy jewelry to celebrate Valentine’s Day;

-40% of people have negative feelings towards Valentine’s Day;

-Taking the advice of the wonderful Dr. Ruth, make sure you do not fight with your love on February 13th as the effects can carry over to the holiday;

-According to the condom company Durex, condom sales are highest around Valentine’s Day, which are 20–30% higher than usual. Consequently…more at-home pregnancy tests are sold in March than in any other month. Ironically…Penicillin, a popular treatment for venereal diseases, was introduced to the world on February 14, 1929;

-The phrase “Sweets for the sweet” is a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 1

-The official world record for the longest marriage for a living couple belongs to Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher, who were married for a total of 86 years and 290 days, before Mr. Fisher passed away;

-61.8% of consumers celebrate Valentine’s Day

-53% of women say they would end their relationship if they didn’t receive something for Valentine’s Day

My Mantra - seriously

Valentine’s Day is only another great opportunity to deliver an exceptional shopping experience to our customer. To build a rapport with a customer and to assist them in making their purchase unique and remarkable for the special person in their lives. From these statistics and facts, we know that people wait until the last minute and aren’t naturally very creative for this holiday, this give us an opportunity to drive phenomenal results through the service and the product pairing we provide. It is our responsibility to deliver stories that resonate with the customers and support your organization capturing a larger piece of the $13.19Billion spending that occurs during this holiday. Not surprisingly, some of the best retailers that can deliver stories and inspire spending through delighting the customer are lingerie retailers such as, Agent Provocateur and this collection by Dottie’s Delights [via The Lingerie Addict]. They make it impossible to buy a single piece but create a visual story with their collection that evokes imagery and response. Valentine’s Day should be more than flowers and chocolate/candy. In retail we have a chance to help our customers create a fun, beautiful, exciting, memorable, and romantic day/night for themselves and their special someone…and that’s a pretty tremendous opportunity…if we make the most of it.

For Your Workplace Valentines [Source: Pintrest]
[Source: Pintrest]


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail and 18 year retailer. I am a passionate and creative leader and coach committed to inspiring thought, action, truth-telling, solution-seeking, and dialog about how to maximize talent through identifying and creating a process around critical success factors, workplace culture, signature leadership practices, productivity, profitability, alignment of employees and company vision & values, and workplace happiness inside all retail organizations. I help create healthy, vibrant, high-performing, and highly-productive organizations that are talent magnets and focused on delivering the highest level of customer experience that will differentiate them from competition and result in long-term growth and sustainability.

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