WASHINGTON (February 9, 2011)—Seventy million Americans will celebrate Valentine's Day at a restaurant this year, according to the National Restaurant Association. The Association's new consumer research shows that about one-third of consumers (31 percent) say they will dine out this February 14.
"There is no better way to celebrate romance than to share a great meal at a restaurant – and millions of Americans will do just that this Valentine's Day," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association. "When it comes to choosing a restaurant for that special meal, consumers' top three deciding factors are the familiarity of a favorite eatery, a romantic setting, and special menu offerings."
Younger adults are more likely to enjoy a special Valentine's Day meal at a restaurant than older adults; 33 percent of 18-34-year olds, and 39 percent of 35-44-year olds say they plan to dine out for a Valentine's Day meal, compared with 27 percent of those 55 and older.
When it comes to factors involved in choosing where to dine out for Valentine's Day, most consumers (42 percent) say they pick their favorite restaurant or their companion's favorite restaurant for their special meal. Twenty-one percent select a restaurant with a romantic atmosphere, followed by restaurants that offer special menus or promotions (13 percent), restaurants picked by their companion (12 percent), and a restaurant they haven't been to before (11 percent).
For younger consumers, a romantic atmosphere carries more weight when choosing a restaurant on Valentine's Day than it does for older adults. Thirty-nine percent of 18-34-year olds said that was the most important factor for them, compared with only 8 percent of those 65 and older.
The Association also surveyed member restaurants on what type of promotions they would offer around Valentine's Day, and the most common responses were special menu items (63 percent), prix fixe menu (45 percent), celebratory beverages or desserts (34 percent), flower/candy (28 percent), and entertainment/music (13 percent). In addition, 63 percent considered Valentine's Day falling on a Monday – a typically slower day of the week – an advantage.
Previous research by the Association shows that Valentine's Day is the second most popular holiday to dine out, after Mother's Day.