After expressing disappointment in subdued footfall over the 2023 Christmas period, the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) has painted a more positive picture for Valentine’s Day on 14 February 2024.

For Valentine’s Day 2023, participation and shopper penetration saw a decline as consumers deprioritised gifting to pay off loans and buy-now-pay-later purchases from Christmas.

According to BIRA, British consumers are increasingly turning to independent retailers for unique and meaningful gifts, and 72% of shoppers prefer to buy Valentine’s gifts from local businesses. The factors behind this are personalised service, unique products and supporting the community.

BIRA advises that independent retailers focus on curating a selection of unique gifts to cater to diverse tastes and budgets. Product examples include locally crafted chocolates, jewellery or homeware.

GlobalData’s retail industry intelligence corroborates that consumers intend to focus on purchasing food gifts this year.

Marketing also remains important, with BIRA spotlighting the power of social media. Strategies can include sharing product photos, offering special Valentine’s promotions, and running contests or giveaways featuring local products.

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Independent retailers are also guided to highlight their local connections, such as collaborating with other independent businesses on joint Valentine’s offerings, or highlighting locally sourced items.

According to BIRA, this approach strengthens an independent retailer’s ties to the local area, fosters a sense of community and encourages repeat business.

BIRA’s #LoveYourHighStreet campaign provides retailers with free resources including posters, social media graphics, and marketing materials.