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Valentine’s Day bookings light so far? You don’t know the half of it

The real torrent should start Thursday, according to new research.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Restaurant bookings for Valentine’s Day are likely to double before lovebirds descend on the business Feb. 14, with sales on the holiday expected to spike 32% from the usual level of a Thursday night, according to new research.

That pop will come not only from dine-in business, but also from a 7% year-over-year increase that day in online orders if recent sales patterns hold true, according to the data, which was jointly compiled by OpenTable, an online reservation service, and Toast, a POS supplier.

All in all, reservations will increase in number by 433% from the Thursdays of prior weeks, the research shows. Tables for two will be most in demand, with deuce bookings increasing by 764% from a usual night.

A bump in business from prior years is expected to be particularly pronounced for establishments in Boston, Baltimore and New York City, according to the data.  Valentine’s Day sales in those areas rose last year by 36%, 28% and 22%, respectively.

The study advises restaurateurs to be patient in assessing their reservations to date. More than half (52%) of the bookings for Valentine’s Day are made in the week prior to the celebration of romance.

Anecdotally, Valentine’s Day is regarded as one of the restaurant industry’s busiest special occasions, second only to Mother’s Day. The bulk of the traffic flows to fine dining, which will that day likely handle 105% of its normal business.

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