Restaurants will feel the love this Valentine's Day

This Valentine's Day, restaurants are expected to feel the love.

Los Angeles-based research firm IBISWorld expects total Valentine's Day spending to be up 3.3% this year, touching $17.6 billion. And because Valentine's Day is today, IBIS says consumers might toss out the idea of buying flowers and gifts, opting for a romantic getaway or dinner instead.

The news, although gloomy for retailers, should be a cause of celebration for the restaurant industry.

"Because Valentine's Day lands on a Sunday, restaurants are likely to gain traffic throughout the entire weekend," said Toon van Beeck, senior analyst with IBISWorld in a release. "Furthermore, because President's Day is on the following Monday, many consumers will be able to travel over the three-day weekend, further boosting restaurant sales."

The restaurant industry is taking note, and many such as Bonefish Grill are offering extended hours and deals to lure in customers.

Traditionally Valentine's Day is a big day for jewelry merchants, florists and candy stores. With the economy still in the doldrums, consumers may not be very generous about parting with their cash. The hardest hit might be florists because Sunday is the worst day for them come Valentine's Day.

"Many retailers will see Valentine's Day as an opportunity to kick start the new year, but the unemployment rate and continued uncertainty of the economic recovery will hamper growth and expansion," van Beeck said. "This combined with the fact that the holiday is a discretionary purchase, IBISWorld expects customers to remain on the shopping sidelines for the second consecutive year."

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