Various statistics from the 2016 holiday season show that retailers’ holidays were bright, with strong sales both in-store and online. For example, a recent article from MiddleTownPress highlighted data from Retail Metrics which showed overall holiday spending likely rose 4%. Similarly, retail consulting firm Conlumino’s data showed total holiday sales rose 3.8% to $196.1 billion—the biggest growth since 2011—led by a 17.1% increase in online spending.

However, both firms were quick to qualify their findings. Retail Metrics points out that

same-store sales, which generally exclude results from both newly opened and shuttered stores, are expected to show an increase of only 1% for the quarter. Similarly, Conlumino notes that consumers’ heightened expectations of cheap or free shipping likely has “acted as a further damper on margins.”

And for the next big shopping holiday—Valentine's Day—retailers are probably not swooning over the projected sales. For the first time in three years, consumer spending in the U.S. on this February holiday is expected to drop, according to survey results from the National Retail Federation (also reported in eMarketer). Love-struck consumers are expected to spend approximately $18.2 billion this year, a number which is down from $19.7 billion in 2016. This also means that average per-person spend will drop from last year’s record high of $147 to $137 this year.

Faced with these less-than-rosy projections, what’s a retailer to do?

One thing they should note is that like their holiday counterparts, Valentines shoppers will be looking for good deals. As NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay remarked, “Consumers will find that retailers recognize their customers are looking for the best deals and will offer good bargains, just as they did during the holiday season.” Given consumers’ continued insistence on finding a bargain, offering a Valentine’s discount on your product or service could set shoppers’ hearts aflutter—and get them to open their wallets.

Businesses using Recurly can use our bulk unique coupon functionality to offer discounts, generating thousands of unique coupon codes in seconds. They can then take advantage of the many benefits that using unique coupon codes offer, like tailoring coupon promotions to specific segments and even specific people and track the redemptions in Recurly.

It may also be helpful to remember that many shoppers are terrible procrastinators. So, offering last-minutes deals can help shoppers feel like they’re making a smart purchase even if they’re doing so on February 14th.

Brick-and-mortar retailers should continue to support their omnichannel strategy which proved crucial during the holiday season, with almost 70% of total holiday spending occurring in stores with both a physical and online presence, as reported by the International Council of Shopping Centers in their post-holiday survey.  

And of course, there is recent data from Recurly and others which points to the continued growth of subscription commerce, proving that consumers appreciate the convenience, efficiency, and sometimes sheer delight that subscriptions deliver. Recurly also gives our customers the ability to offer both gift cards and gift plans.  This Valentine’s, gift-givers may appreciate the opportunity to give a recurring gift, letting their sweeties know they’re thinking of them throughout the year.