While Thanksgiving and Christmas are the two biggest holidays for consumer spending, Valentine's Day can certainly hold its own. According to the National Retail Federation, the average Valentine's Day shopper spent $133.91 on gifts in 2014. The survey predicted that number would rise to $142.31 per person in 2015 and reach a total of $18.9 billion among all shoppers.

"It's encouraging to see consumers show interest in spending on gifts and Valentine's Day-related merchandise – a good sign for consumer sentiment …  " Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the NRF, said in the press release. "Hoping to draw in eager shoppers, retailers will offer unique promotions on gifts, meal options at restaurants and even experiences." 

Businesses should  act on Shay's suggestion and advertise special campaigns for the holiday. Even e-commerce stores should prepare themselves for February sales events. While many survey respondents still plan to shop in retail stores, 25 percent would take their Valentine's shopping to the Internet. Online retail marketers should see Feb. 14 as a chance to capitalize on a major holiday and bring more shoppers to their site.

Focus on the individual
Many complain Valentine's Day has turned from an expression of love to an empty commercial holiday for selling cards and candy. Instead of promoting catch-all gifts, your business should focus on items that appeal to individual shoppers. Identify best-selling products from years past, then promote them alongside related items. You can use your consumer's purchase history to recommend specific products they'd be interested in, either to treat themselves or suggest to a loved one. The more personalized you make your promotions, the better Internet users will react to them.

Use deals to capture late shoppers
Everyone is familiar with the last-minute Valentine's Day shopper. He or she, in an act of commercial defiance or simple forgetfulness, waits until the 11th hour and is left with nothing to choose from but leftover chocolate. This is where your business comes in. Entice procrastinators with discounts leading right up to Feb. 14, and offer temporary expedited shipping options for those concerned about delivery times. Marketing teams should set a specific date for the end of their promotions so shoppers understand how much time they have to make a purchase. 

Digital gift certificates are also a good option for late shoppers. These are delivered instantly to a customer's inbox and eliminate the stress associated with late and lost packages. Digital gift cards allow the recipient to purchase whatever they want from your store. Therefore, there's less likelihood of someone requesting a return or exchange.

You should also reinforce how quick and easy it is for customers to submit electronic payments to your site. Ensure your checkout process is smooth to satisfy any anxious shoppers and accept a wide variety of payment solutions for those picky about how they spend their money online.

Promote gifts for other recipients 
Valentine's Day is traditionally about couples, but these aren't the only one's giving gifts. Many use the day to spend money on their friends, family, teachers and coworkers. After all, everyone appreciates a thoughtful gift no matter what time of year it is. E-commerce stores should make a variety of advertisements instead of focusing only on romance.

Business shouldn't forget about pets, either. According to the NRF's survey, one in five respondents planned a special Valentine's treat for their animal companions. Ultimately, the survey predicted pet spending would reach $703 million. 

Valentine's Day is a valuable marketing event for businesses. Even e-commerce retailers can take advantage of this holiday with unique promotions targeting gift-giving consumers. 

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