Valentine’s Day is filled with stereotypes: the coveted reservation for a table for two, chocolates and Champagne galore, and the last-minute frenzy for the perfect romantic gift. While some of these classic elements may look different this year amidst the pandemic as restaurants and bars operate with limited capacity and tight restrictions, others may be more important than ever — namely, gifting. 

Gift orders skyrocketed on Drizly over the past year as consumers looked for ways to share the love from afar, with gift order share doubling in 2020 compared to 2019. “For Valentine’s Day, we anticipate that gifting will play a key role in sales for retailers as customers spend the holiday apart from loved ones and look for ways to celebrate from afar with a bottle of Champagne or red wine,” says Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights. 

To help retailers maximize gift sales ahead of Valentine’s Day, we examined data from December 2020 — when gift orders spiked to 19 percent of total order share — as well as Valentine’s Day 2020. 

Stock Up On Top Gift Items

In both December 2020 and Valentine’s Day 2020, the Champagne/sparkling wine and whiskey categories comprised the majority of gift order share of sales, so retailers should ensure that their inventories are well-stocked with SKUs in these categories. Red wine and tequila also played a significant role in driving gift sales.

Within those categories, prestigious brands with well-known labels led growth, with brands like Veuve Clicquot, Dom Pérignon, Johnnie Walker, and Don Julio emerging as best-sellers among gift orders. In preparation for Valentine’s Day, retailers should go deep on these premium bottles from esteemed brands as consumers are likely to be searching for those SKUs.

“There’s been a huge trend toward and demand for high-end wine and spirits,” explains Rony Georges, the CEO of 101 Wine Company in Encinitas, California. “We expect the same around this Valentine’s Day, specifically in terms of high-end wines and Champagnes.” 

Ensuring that most-gifted items are in stock ahead of Valentine’s Day will help retailers capture orders and avoid out of stocks of in-demand SKUs.  

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Drizly’s Top-Selling Gift Order Brands, Valentine’s Day 2020

  1. Veuve Clicquot
  2. Dom Perignon
  3. Don Julio 
  4. Moet & Chandon 
  5. Johnnie Walker 
  6. The Macallan
  7. Casamigos 
  8. Woodford Reserve
  9. Clase Azul 
  10. Caymus 

Though consumers are typically willing to splurge more on gift orders than on everyday purchases, there is an even greater likelihood of high order value this Valentine’s Day. The average unit price for gift orders in December 2020 was 18.4 percent higher than gift orders on Valentine’s Day 2020. 

While this could point to higher spending for Q4 holidays over Valentine’s Day, it also points to broader premiumization trends that have occurred throughout the pandemic. “This growth in  order value throughout 2020 suggests that retailers may see trading up occurring for both standard and gift orders on Valentine’s Day 2020,” says Paquette.

Premium beverage purchases are a way to make the occasion feel more special. “Instead of going out to a nice dinner or traveling for the occasion,” says Paquette, “customers will look for ways to splurge and treat their loved ones at home, and trading up on drink purchases will likely be one way they do so.”

An Opportunity to Drive Future Sales

While going deep on premium — and allocated — fine wines and spirits can help ensure steady Valentine’s Day sales, stocking up also offers an opportunity for retailers to capture additional market share by attracting new customers.

“Whatever we can get of allocated spirits, we take,” says Georges. “We honestly can’t keep enough in stock, particularly when it comes to high-end bourbons and tequilas. Especially with online sales, you aren’t limited to your local customers, and can really expand.” 

In addition to surges in luxury spirits and wines, ongoing on-premise closures will likely spur sales of cocktail ingredients like mixers, bitters, and liqueurs. “With many consumers celebrating at home instead of in their favorite restaurants and bars, they will look to recreate that experience by stirring and shaking their favorite drinks,” says Paquette.

Capturing gift orders can also be an important way for retailers to attract new customers. “Gifting was a huge driver for new customers on Drizly in 2020, who were introduced to the platform because it allowed them to send and receive gifts from across the country,” says Paquette. 

To keep first-time — and returning — customers coming back, consider adding a unique touch to gift orders, like wrapping the order or adding a gift note, which can drive customer loyalty with both buyer and recipient.