With Valentine's Day quickly approaching, Long Island business owners, retailers and analysts expect the extended romantic weekend to bring extra revenue, as consumers spend on gifts, meals, merchandise and special outings.
For the first time since 2009, the holiday falls on a Saturday, giving people the weekend to show their appreciation for their significant others, friends, family and even their pets.
"Having it fall on a Saturday means people will also go out the day before or the day after," said Danielle Conte, retail consultant and founder of shopping blog YoutailRetail.com based in Centerport. "It is also a good opportunity for a weekend getaway," she said, adding that it falls at the beginning of the President's Week break for many schools on Long Island.
Valentine's Day sales nationally are expected to reach $18.9 billion this year, up from $17.3 billion last year, according to a National Retail Federation survey, with the average holiday expenditure at $142.3, compared with $133.91 last year.
"Anytime it falls on a weekend it becomes a bigger holiday," said Marshal Cohen, retail analyst with The NPD Group, a Port Washington-based market research company. "It could increase its importance by 25 percent." Long Islanders, he added, tend to spend more on holidays than the rest of the country.
But not all businesses are happy with the weekend date.
"Nobody that owns a restaurant is really happy about Valentine's Day falling on a Saturday," already a big night for eating out, said Kevin Liebov, executive chef at the Savoy Tavern in Merrick. It's offering a three-course prix-fixe menu ranging from $55 to $75.
When the holiday comes on a weekday, "you get a slamming night during the middle of the week," he said. "The good thing is that people start celebrating on Thursday and Friday, so it becomes a mega weekend."
About 91 percent of Americans will treat their significant other to something special, and 13.3 percent will shop at a local or small business to find something unique for their loved one, according to the NRF.
Entrepreneurs like Roslyne Johnson, of Hempstead Village, are banking on consumers' looking for a nontraditional approach. She runs MayaIndia, a home-based Internet business, making handmade bath and body products that smell and look like dessert. Her chocolate-themed baskets for Valentine's Day cost around $50.
"My products look like chocolate, smell like chocolate," but customers are not going to put on weight, she said.
Another upside of the Saturday holiday is that delivery-based businesses will have more time to drop off gifts.
"Falling on a Saturday is amazing because we have an extra shipping day," said Patti Kapla, vice president of business development for Deer Park-based beauty e-retailer FragranceNet.com. Valentine's Day, she said, is the company's biggest holiday after Christmas. "It gives us until Friday to get something to you."
The expected busy weekend means Linda Karatzas, owner of Commack Florist, a 1-800-Flowers.com franchise shop, has enlisted family members to help fill orders and added 15 drivers to her staff of eight. Valentine's Day is her largest holiday after Mother's Day. "We can get double the deliveries out because we don't have to worry about working around business hours so much," Karatzas said.
Last year, several customers of Carle Place-based floral retailer 1-800-Flowers took to social media with complaints about missed or delayed deliveries following a pre-Valentine's Day snowstorm. But company officials say they normally have a contingency plan in place such as filling orders through other local florists. This time around, they are offering discounts for delivery on Thursday or Friday to help manage high volumes.
"Last year, we called it operation 'Love Storm,' " said 1-800- Flowers spokesman Joseph D. Pititto. "We are prepared for that if it happens again this year, but we are keeping our fingers crossed that it won't."