February 12, 2021

How Restaurants Will Capitalize on Valentine’s Day Dining in 2021


February 14 is known traditionally for an uptick in sales of chocolates, cards, and other gifts, but for restaurants, it is an especially important date that drives up revenue. The holiday and the days surrounding it are a vital source of income for the industry as couples and friendly gatherings max out reservations. 2020’s Valentine’s Day can be considered the last widely-celebrated holiday before the initial outbreak, giving the industry perspective on the pandemic’s effects after a full year. While last year’s celebrations were unaffected by the outbreak, 2021 sales records are expected to look a bit different.

Past Consumer Data and Expectations for 2021

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), overall spending on the holiday is expected to be up this year as 3 in 4 consumers have expressed interest in commemorating celebrations. NRF data states that 24% of consumers have planned to celebrate with an evening out, which is down 10% from the previous year. Even with the decrease in in-person dining, 2 in 5 consumers stated that they still plan on celebrating the holiday at home. These statistics give restaurants a clearer perspective on sales expectations that will rely on their strategies to meet demands for both in-person and delivery orders.

Creating flexible dining experiences

Restaurants have been adjusting their operations to accommodate patrons during the pandemic and the move is expected to affect dining experiences for Valentine’s Day. Reduced capacity will act as an added complication for a busy day. Businesses could benefit from implementing timed dining experiences to maximize accommodations for patrons. Optimizing outdoor spaces will also be key for those with available flexibility.

More traditionally, businesses are expected to offer preset holiday menus to entice customer orders. This year, many will offer deals during on preset items for both in-person dining and takeout requests. Specialty items and pairings have been added to digital menu codes for those looking ahead to their reservation or takeout order.

Packaging in the spotlight

Some restaurants are getting creative with their to-go packaging by making kits that recreate the in-person dining experience and curating their menu with items that travel well. For families, interactive meal kits will be popular as consumer behavior continues shifting toward customizable experiences.

The overhaul in restaurant operations driven by a rise in takeout orders is seen far and wide. It creates a unique opportunity for manufacturers of these product categories to increase supply and, where possible, alter their products. These strategies will create supply for a growing interest in specialty options that allow restaurants to fulfill consumers’ shifting preferences toward the at-home restaurant experience.

As expected, this will be an anomalous year for this popular holiday in the restaurant industry. Local governance policies will create varied sales reports for businesses across the country. The key in sales performances will rely on how many businesses will adapt to flexible strategies to maximize revenue. Some of these changes are also projected to outlast the current climate as consumers continue shifting behaviors.

Related Links: State of the FES Industry: Interpreting Trends Through AQ Data, Checking Up On Outdoor Dining Trends On AQ

Alex Cruz - Communications Specialist

Alex is a Communications Specialist at Revalize, AQ's parent company. Her focus is on delivering innovative content to our clients through our digital platforms. She brings with her years of experience in various B2B industries that enable her to provide a fresh perspective to our customers.

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