Among the many things we have learned from this pandemic, finding joy in the simplest things ranks high on the list. Valentine’s Day marked nearly one year since the start of the pandemic, and while a night out may have been off the table for many this year, we could still treat our loved ones to something special – perhaps with a fragrance, a Valentine’s Day staple that continues to stand the test of time. In fact, fragrance sales grew 5% during the two weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, compared to the same weeks last year.  

Not only are consumers embracing the little things, but they are maximizing celebrations by starting them earlier. We saw this during the 2020 holiday season, which kicked off earlier than in prior years as retailers and brands promoted well ahead of Black Friday. This trend of getting an earlier start continued as Valentine’s Day approached, with several department and beauty specialty stores featuring Valentine’s gifts to build early excitement and attention for enthusiasts and fragrance shoppers alike.

NPD data shows that this early start was an important contributor to fragrance’s growth in February. The first week of February drove all the year-over-year gains that occurred for the two weeks leading to Valentine’s Day. Online sales fueled growth during the first week of February, up +77% compared to last year in a pre-pandemic environment, with online representing a larger portion of sales and outpacing the second week. It isn’t surprising that online had a stronger earlier performance as memories of shipping delays from the holiday season are not so distant.

The early start to Valentine’s Day may be an indicator of what we can expect as we continue the journey in figuring out our new normal. There is potential for a similar phenomenon around Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, dependent on the extent to which brands and retailers will leverage the trend of promoting early. As evidenced by the sales figures thus far, consumers are responding to earlier promotions, driven by their quest to create special moments and extend life’s celebrations.