With Valentine's Day falling on the Sunday of a holiday weekend, many analysts believed sales would be up compared with last year, with restaurants enjoying a significant boost in sales.
In its annual Valentine's Day forecast, released Feb. 1, Los Angeles-based IBISWorld estimated that total sales would be up 3.3% this year, with restaurants enjoying an 8.2% boost, while jewelers and florists would see declines of more than 4.6%. The logic was that people were more likely to travel during the holiday weekend, and couples would be more likely to opt for a romantic dinner, rather than exchanging gifts, if they had Presidents' Day off.
But, unusually cold weather and heavy snowfall in many parts of the country may have put those plans on hold.
“I don't have any hard data yet, but the weather really didn't do anyone any favors,” said Bob Goldin, executive vice president of Chicago-based Technomic.
Valentine's Day is one of the most popular days of the year for dining out, second only to Mother's Day, according to Annika Stensson, director of media relations for the National Restaurant Association. She agreed that bad weather may have kept many diners at home.
The cold weather hurt U.S. retail sales as well. The International Council of Shopping Centers last week reported that chain store sales declined 0.7% during the week ending Feb. 13, compared with the same period in 2009.