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Tesco Valentines Day 1

Romance isn’t dead!

What’s the connection between big data and old fashioned love tokens? Read on to find out who the winner was!

UK internet shopping traffic continues to grow from strength to strength, with sale volumes rising by every known metric, being supported by a complex and innovative UK eCommerce market that shows no signs of pausing for breath.

However, all of these numbers can hide a simple truth; that every parcel delivered has a human impact. Deliveries are not just brown boxes and packing tape, they are eagerly awaited gifts, the next amazing gadget or a heartfelt present. There is no better place to measure this impact than on a day that strikes fear and trepidation into men’s hearts than Valentine’s Day in 2014!

We at MetaPack are uniquely placed to see the trends in the market as our market share includes over 75% of the top 100 UK retailers and with over 160 million parcels per annum shipped on our system in 2013.  For this blog, we have looked at retailers in the perfume & lingerie sector, florists and chocolate retailers.  The shipment data is taken from the 13th and 14th of February.

Looking at pure parcel volumes will always skew the data towards large metropolitan cities and with London being eight times larger than Birmingham, it doesn’t seem fair to condemn the love chances of the rest of the country! However, volume will always be the initial port of call in any analysis.


The top 10 by volume (sorted alphabetically) cities that received the most Valentine’s Day deliveries were:












The popularity of certain types of gifts has always been present at Valentine’s Day – a dozen red roses anyone?  Well it appears nearly everyone has the same idea, with a whopping 74% of deliveries being from florists!

To put this in context, it is like having a Christmas Day spike for a single day with all of the logistical worries that accompany it.  Following in a distant second is lingerie & perfume at 18% and food and drink only contributing 7% to the total.

Per Capita

However, the amount of chocolate, flower and lingerie deliveries per person produces trends that were hidden deep in the data.

By looking at the amount of orders against the population, the trends are far more insightful. Leicester is nearly twice as romantic as London, despite being only one place higher at 4th place!

It may well be lonely at the top, however the people of Bristol would say the same about the bottom, as sadly they finished in 10th place. A staggering 4 times fewer orders per person than the top placed city in the UK.

The top three…

Every city in the UK would love to receive the title of ‘most romantic ecommerce city in the UK 2014’ but this accolade is reserved for those cities that have gone above and beyond the call.

In third place is Reading, which only ranks 20th in the size of its conurbation but is hitting well above its weight, beating cities such as Glasgow, Sheffield and Manchester. The men of Reading can rest easy today.

Runner up as the highest placed Northern city, is Newcastle. Newcastle was closely tied with Reading but the kindness of the city helped push it up and above. Is it the Sycamore Gap that is motivating the Geordies or the fact that the Angel of the North’s birthday is actually Valentine’s Day?  Either way, they can be proud of their position as the ‘North’s most romantic city 2014’.

Finally, what we all have been waiting for, the winner, the Casanova, the Julio Iglesias of the UK and it is….Guildford!

This may be a shock, but the numbers don’t lie.  Guildford, per capita, had 3 times more orders than the average in the top 10 and 4 times that of lowly Bristol.  Did the Anglo-Saxon Guild leave a mark on the local population to this day that equips them with this romantic slant?  I’m not sure, but there certainly would appear to be a lot of happy recipients on Valentine’s Day!

What does oil have to do with data?  

Big data has been touted as the next crude oil, massively valuable but in need of refinement.  Here at MetaPack we do not disagree and hopefully this small insight into how data can be refactored highlights the dangers in having only a one-dimensional view on the numbers.

Data can be good, data can be bad but the one thing that is common across any dataset is that it is worthless without refinement.  For those readers that knew that Guildford would place in first place, I salute you, for the rest of us I hope it was as enlightening as it was surprising!  Sorry Guildford!