Valentine’s Day cards have traditionally been for that special person in your life, but that description now includes four legged companions.
An estimated one per cent of the millions of consumers who buy Valentine’s cards are now doing so for their pets, industry studies have revealed.
There has been a boom in cards specially designed with animals in mind, to be sent either ‘from’ or to the family pet.
Designs include images of cats and dogs with the message ‘For my pawfect human’ and ‘I only have eyes fur you’.
A significant number of British shoppers - who according to the latest figures bought 19 million Valentine’s cards in 2021 - are now buying more than one, with many intended for someone other than a partner or lover.
Retailers have reported growing numbers of people buying more than one Valentine’s Day card, with grandparents and parents buying them for the children in the family and others bought for friends and work colleagues - as well as pets.
15% bought more than one Valentine's card last year
Amanda Fergusson, the chief executive of the Greeting Card Association (GCA), said: “There is definitely a trend to send Valentine’s Day cards now to more than just your loved one. As well as other members of the family, people even send them from and to their pets.
“Of course the main sales for this season continue to be cards bought for a lover, but today Valentine’s cards are often also sent to other family members, especially if they feel they need a little romance injected into their lives.”
Figures show that last year 15 per cent of people bought more than one Valentine’s Day card and a quarter (24 per cent) bought cards for someone who wasn’t a significant other.
Card sellers have now tapped into this market, with three for two offers at stores such as Paperchase and the online retailer OhhDear.
Card historians point out today's offers on Valentine’s cards are an echo of a practice adopted by Queen Victoria.
The Queen, unfairly regarded as lacking a sense of humour, would send multiple scented cards to her royal aides and amuse herself with their reactions when they arrived in the post.
Three for two promotions have prompted debate on social media, with some mocking the practice as “a very niche market” while others said it suited them perfectly.
‘That niche market is me!’
Dr Clare Hoare, a researcher at the Institute of Contemporary British History, King's College London, said: “That niche market is me! I always buy them for my three sons. Keep it quiet tho’ - they think they’ve got admirers (They’re all in their twenties btw).”
Heather Crabbe added: “People send valentines cards to their grandkids and sometimes their friends, etc. I know because my mom used to send me a Valentine until I had kids and now she sends them to them.”
James Head, an electronics engineer, wrote: “Daughter likes one from my wife and I, and my wife expects one from her cat as well so it's a good offer for cat-house-holds with children.”
There is no sign of the Valentine’s Day card habit fading.
Consumer research by the GCA found that 67 per cent of 18-34 year olds in 2021 were planning to send more or the same Valentine’s Day cards than in previous year, with 80 per cent of card buyers overall intending to send more or the same number.
Latest figures released last year showed sales for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s day, Easter and Father’s Day last year accounted for 11 per cent by value of the single card market, together totalling £167m - an increase of 12 per cent on 2020.
“We love cards in the UK, sending more cards per person than any other nation. Cards are a good tangible way of keeping in touch, and mean more than a social media message which are sent all the time,” said Ms Fergusson.