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    U.S. Consumers Show Their Love for Chocolate On Valentine's Day: Nielsen

    Research giant forecasts more at-home celebrations and value-oriented gifts as consumers look for ways to share the love in economically challenged times.

    U.S. consumers show their love for chocolate for Valentine's Day, with Valentine's week ranking No. 1 for chocolate candy sales, according to Progressive Grocer's parent, The Nielsen Company.

    Indeed, consumers are expected to purchase more than $345 million in chocolate candy during Valentine's week, accounting for 5.1 percent of chocolate candy's annual sales. On a total candy basis, Nielsen foresees consumers purchasing more than $448 million during Valentine's week.

    Among the highlights of Nielsen's outlook for Valentine's Day sales trends this year:

    -- More than 58 million pounds of chocolate candy will be sold during Valentine's week vs. the nearly 90 million pounds of chocolate candy sold during Halloween week.

    -- Lovebirds aren't necessarily early birds, with Feb. 13 -- the day before Valentine's Day -- as the top total candy and chocolate candy buying day in February.

    -- Bargain shoppers are out the day after Valentine's Day with Feb. 15 the second most important chocolate candy-buying day in February.

    -- Valentine's week is one of the top weeks for sparkling wine sales, with more than $8.6 million in sales, trailing only Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. More than 881,000 bottles of sparkling wine will be sold during the holiday week.

    -- Perhaps to impress their special Valentine, consumers are willing to spend more for sparkling wine, including champagne, during the holiday week. Sparkling wine (750 milliliters) has its highest average pricing during Valentine's week at $9.75, about 5 percent more than other peak sales weeks.

    "As reports of job losses mount, you can bet that U.S. consumers will be challenged this Valentine's Day," said Todd Hale, Nielsen's SVP/Consumer & Shopper Insights. "Look for more at-home celebrations and shifts to value-oriented traditional gifts as consumers look for ways to celebrate the holiday in these economically challenged times."

    For more information, please visit www.nielsen.com.

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