Valentine’s Day falls on a weekday this year — Tuesday — instead of a weekend, and that bodes well for Long Island businesses that provide dining, flowers, candy, perfumes, customized gifts and special outings, retail experts and business owners said.
When the holiday falls on a weekday, business owners get extra traffic on a day that would otherwise be slow, particularly for restaurants.
Long Islanders will be shopping this year for practical gifts for their significant others, friends and family, said Marshal Cohen, senior retail analyst with the NPD Group, a Port Washington market research company.
“The biggest difference is there will be more gifts that we can actually use,” Cohen said. “You may just get a waffle iron.”
For 1-800-Flowers.com Inc., preparation for its second-busiest floral holiday kicked into high gear on Feb. 1. The Carle Place-based online florist and gift company, with brands such as Harry & David, The Popcorn Factory, Cheryl’s and Fannie May, expanded its workforce for Valentine’s Day by about 4,000 employees to a total of 8,000. The company expects to increase its sales this year by 7 percent to 10 percent over last year.
“This year, we are very excited as the day moves from a Sunday to a Tuesday,” said 1-800-Flowers Chief Executive Chris McCann. “Valentine’s Day is big for floral and gourmet food when it is during the week,” he said. Getting flowers or food in the office allows people to show them to co-workers, he said.
In contrast, Valentine’s Day sales nationally are expected to fall to $18.2 billion, down from a record $19.7 billion last year, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. The number of people surveyed who plan to celebrate the holiday dropped from 63 percent in 2007 to 54 percent this year.
To attract spontaneous shoppers, retailers will offer deals and bargains, said Danielle Conte, retail consultant and founder of shopping blog YoutailRetail.com, based in Centerport. About 18.4 percent of people will wait until the week of Valentine’s Day to buy gifts, according to online coupon provider RetailMeNot.
Lee Elliot, 70, owner of Lee Jewelers on Main Street in Sag Harbor, hopes to attract bargain shoppers. Lee Jewelers is offering 25 percent to 50 percent off everything in the store. Elliot designs jewelry with his daughter, Dori Elliot.
“Out here on the East End, it is slow during the winter, and for us to have an occasion like Valentine’s Day is wonderful, and it is important,” Lee Elliot said.
Pretty Toni’s Café, a soul food restaurant on West Merrick Road in Valley Stream, offers a special Valentine’s Day menu that includes items such as deep-fried whole red snapper with spicy mango drizzle, and New York strip steak and shrimp. No reservations are required.
“We are a very intimate restaurant,” said co-owner Gary Clifton, 56. “Couples love the music and love the ambience. Our restaurant has been described as being in your living room because it is a comfortable experience.”