Love Around the Web

Ah, Valentine’s Day! The time of year when romantics ignite their desire for…shopping. According to a study that BIGresearch conducted for the National Retail Federation (NRF), love will spark $12.79 billion in spending, resulting in an average of $99.24 per consumer in 2004 – an almost $19 increase over 2003

The holiday spirit was apparent on the Internet, as lovers navigated their way around flower, gift, and greeting card sites, spending money and sending traffic soaring in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. comScore Networks, Inc. found that 24 percent of holiday-minded shoppers would be buying their gifts online, spending 49 percent more in the most popular categories than the year before.


Online Consumer Spending (excluding Auctions)
Category 10 Days Ending
Feb. 11, 2003
10 Days Ending
Feb. 11, 2004
Change
Flowers & Gifts $58 million $91 million 56%
Health & Beauty $37 million $47 million 27%
Jewelry & Watches $31 million $50 million 62%
Total of 3 Categories $126 million $188 million 49%
Source: comScore Networks

Graham Mudd of comScore Networks, Inc. points to the successful fourth quarter 2003 holiday season as a foreshadowing of the Valentine’s Day e-commerce increase. “Online shopping is growing at impressive rates, and that growth manifests itself during holidays,” said Mudd.

Mudd also cites broadband penetration as a propellant for e-commerce, allowing Internet users to shop for a broader array of products with greater ease than dial-up. Also, tenure is an important factor as more experienced users immediately think of the Internet as a shopping option.

Traffic measurements from Nielsen//NetRatings revealed a whopping 291 percent increase over last year to gifts and flowers sites for the week ending February 8, 2004, attracting 2.7 million unique visitors. The traffic to online greeting card sites for the same time period rose to 5.8 million, compared to 3 million in 2003.

Internet users also looked for love in the week prior to Valentine’s Day, when 3.8 million unique visitors went to a personals site, measuring a 9 percent week-over-week increase. Traffic to Yahoo Personals grew 55 percent to 817,000 unique visitors from work and 1.3 million visitors from home, jumping 19 percent, while Match.com grew 19 percent at work to 863,00 unique visitors and 5 percent at home to 993,000 visitors.

Over half (56 percent) of the respondents to a survey conducted by the Claria Corporation through its Feedback Research division indicated that they were using online dating and personals services because they were looking for a long-term relationship, spending an average of 48 minutes per online session browsing for prospective dates.

For the first ten days of February 2004, the market share of visits to the sites in Hitwise’s flowers and gifts category increased on average over 26.2 percent, compared to the same period in 2003.

Women led the visits to the category at roughly 62 percent. On average, Hitwise found that women typically account for 52 percent of the visits to sites that provide flower sales and delivery, and those specializing in gifts. Nearly half of the visitors to the flowers and gifts category were in the 35 to 54 year old age range.


Most Visited Flowers and Gifts Sites,
week ending February 14, 2004, U.S.
Site Market Share
Hallmark.com 36.29%
1-800-flowers.com 9.41%
FTD.com 7.82%
DaySpring Cards 5.22%
Birthday Alarm 5.13%
ProFlowers 4.49%
RedEnvelope 2.33%
KaBloom 1.32%
Florist.com 1.28%
Godiva Chocolatier 1.01%
Source: Hitwise

Coupling Valentine’s Day with the Presidents Day long weekend allowed for travel to be included among the holiday gifts. Priceline.com compiled the top destinations for the weekend, finding that Hawaii, Florida. Las Vegas and New York City were among the most romantic spots, each capturing multiple spots in the top 50.


Top Destinations for Valentine’s Day/
Presidents Day Weekend 2004
1. Las Vegas Strip Area
2. New York’s Midtown West
3. Miami Beach
4. New York’s Midtown East
5. Miami’s South Beach
6. Orlando’s Disney World vicinity
7. New York’s Midtown South
8. New York’s Central Park South
9. Waikiki South
10. Waikiki North
Source: Priceline.com

For those spending the holiday weekend solo, America Online found that the best U.S. locations for singles included: the New York metro area; Los Angeles, Orange County; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; San Francisco; Chicago; Boston; Dallas; and Philadelphia.

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