Everyone else is doing it.
Eat your heart out Valentine’s Day: Mother’s Day is the most popular day of the year for restaurants.
According to the most recent data from the National Restaurant Association, 80 million people per year call on restaurants on Mother’s Day. That’s more than any other holiday, including the king of overpriced wine pairings, February 14. (See below for top holiday data.)
What’ll it be? Steak, seafood and barbeque was the most popular category at 34%. Some 21% of diners chose ethnic cuisine, like Italian or Chinese. And buffets landed at 19% (they’re particularly popular for families with children). Almost half of the Mother’s Day restaurant traffic will be dinner—followed by lunch at 33%, and brunch, with a strong showing, at 24%.
With all that money up for grabs, restaurants are predictably offering an array of holiday specials to eke out more share. That includes Hooters, which is bringing back its “Moms eat free” (with the purchase of a beverage) campaign that draws in 35,000 people, the chain says. The maximum value of the deal is $10.99.
If that’s all you spend on Mother’s Day, though, you’re an anomaly. Americans are expected to shell out a record $172.63 on average on the holiday this year, according to the National Retail Federation. That comes to $21.2 billion, up from $19.9 billion.
Don’t have the cash to spare? Consider cooking.
Restaurants’ top holidays
Mother’s Day: 80 million
Thanksgiving: 79 million
Valentine’s Day: 70 million
Father’s Day: 50 million
Easter: 33 million
Source: National Restaurant Association
An abbreviated version of this story appeared in the May 1, 2015 issue of Fortune magazine.