(Note: This story appears in the December 2022 issue of STOREROTICA Magazine)

*Story by Dr. Sunny Rodgers

Dr. Sunny Rodgers discusses trends, projections, and strategies to help retailers capitalize on the power — and the price — of love.


alentine’s Day can be a welcome reprieve after notoriously slow sales in January. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, Valentine’s Day ranks fifth among U.S. spending holidays after December events and Mother’s Day, with 2022 sales coming in at almost $24 billion.

Let’s get you in a position to get some of those billions of dollars spent in the name of love.

What’s the forecast for February 14, 2023?

Historically, the average consumer spends $175.41 on gifts for their sweetheart. But with the possibility of inflation and/or recession looming, what are the experts predicting for next year?

Although the experts at Convenience Store News believe 2023 will bring a reduction in consumer discretionary spending, Valentine’s Day holds an important sentiment to most people. Along with that, the pandemic has changed consumers’ priorities, with health and relationships becoming important factors when it comes to spending.

So, while consumer’s may be willing to open their wallets for Valentine’s Day gifts, they will most likely be more selective in their choices.

If the candy industry is any indication, Valentine’s Day 2023 will be a valuable selling season for retailers. Even with the pandemic’s lingering hold on shopping last year, seasonal Valentine’s Day candy set a new record for purchases in 2022 with an increase of $45 million, generating $729 million sales in the seven-week period leading up the holiday.

Ahem, note to self, perhaps edible paints, flavored lubricants, and candy underwear should be added to retailers’ offerings next year.

2023 Valentine’s Day shopping trends

While tried-and-true hearts filled with chocolate candy are a perennial favorite, followed in popularity by greeting cards, flowers, jewelry, clothing, and gift cards, another pattern emerged in 2022 — an interest in experiential gifts.

Research reported 41 people out of 100 shared that they would “love to receive a gift experience” for Valentine’s Day. Also notable is that millennials are the most likely shoppers to buy experiential gifts. This insight is something that may be helpful for adult retailers.

Possible experiential Valentine’s Day gifts to consider:

• A personalized box of pleasure products meant to entice feelings of exploration according to the level of their curiosity.

• Take that service one step further by offering to select a unique new product for their special someone over the next year.

• Books paired with products for couples to explore intimate fantasies or to act out inspiration from the pages of erotica.

“If the candy industry is any indication, Valentine’s Day 2023 will be a valuable selling season for retailers. Even with the pandemic’s lingering hold on shopping last year, seasonal Valentine’s Day candy set a new record for purchases in 2022 with an increase of $45 million, generating $729 million sales in the seven-week period leading up the holiday.” —  Dr. Sunny Rodgers

Since many pandemic restrictions have been lifted, research surprisingly reports 87% of consumers intend to do their Valentine’s Day shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. This will give retailers the opportunity to give direct in-person advice to shoppers, allowing for more personal interactions that should lead to higher sales.

Additionally, studies show that although half of the U.S. population plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day in 2023, men will spend twice as much on gifts than females intend to. For this reason, retailers who can guide and mentor men searching for gifts should be able to increase their sales and gain customers’ appreciation and loyalty.

Dr. Sunny Rodgers

What else can be done to make Valentine’s Day 2023 a retail success?

Start as soon as the clock strikes midnight on Christmas Day! Consumer behavior shows that people begin searching for Valentine’s Day gifts on December 26.

This not only capitalizes on monetary gifts received over the December holiday season, but it also allows people time to find the right presents for their relationship. And the good news is, although the percentage of people celebrating Valentine’s Day is reportedly decreasing, the amount of money consumers are spending on sweetheart gifts has increased by an average of $60.

Here are six tips to help increase your Valentine’s Day retail sales:

1. Make it easier for people to find you. Make sure your store is locatable online and off, and update your SEO search terms to include helpful variations, such as “valentine gifts for women”, “sweetheart gifts for him”, or “sexy gifts for boyfriend.”

2. Wrap it right. It may seem simple, but offering gift wrapping or gift bags can go a long way in providing a convenient full-service experience for shoppers.

3. Merchandising! Set up stores so that Valentine’s Day gifts are near the door or can be found easily by shoppers. Dedicate a particular section of your store to Valentine’s Day. “Visual dominance” is a psychological situation where visual stimuli can dominate a person’s awareness. Using bright, eye-catching Valentine’s Day displays can work in a retailer’s favor to help drive purchases.

4. It’s not just about married couples. Capture the other half of shoppers who loathe Valentine’s Day. Embrace “Galentine’s Day” (an unofficial holiday that falls on Feb. 13 where people celebrate their girlfriends) and other opportunities to engage with single people and those who wish to celebrate solo.

5. A couple that shops together has more fun! Come up with cute, romantic strategies for couples shopping together. Perhaps advertise a sweetheart special that can only be redeemed when couples visit the store and share a kiss to obtain the offer. Creating opportunities for a romantic connection within your store can help boost conversion rates.

6. Prepare for planners and procrastinators alike. Data shows that women start shopping very early for their Valentine’s Day gifts, while men wait until the last minute. Use this information to tailor your displays and sales to ensure you’re appealing to your target shoppers at the right time.

What price can you put on affection?

Over the past couple of years celebrating holidays with loved ones gained importance and it appears that these events will continue to be more meaningful than ever before.

While many retailers lean toward offering a myriad of pink and red products to symbolize the holiday, I encourage you to go beyond this strategy to truly take advantage of the buying scope of Valentine’s Day. Inspire shoppers to go for luxury, to spoil their significant other, and to finally get that fantasy item that they’ve been dreaming of trying (sex swing, anyone?).

Be creative and capture your customers’ hearts. And remember, most people believe they can’t buy love — but they’re certainly going to try!

Dr. Sunny Rodgers is the founder of Sunsplash Media Group and Sex Toy Concierge, and is the Marketing & Intimate Health Advisor for M.D. Science Lab.