Valentine's Day may be the day of love, but it's not the best time to say "I do."
That's the love advice from Allison Love, owner of Allison Love's Fine Jewelry of Rock Hill.
While a Sears survey estimates that 40 percent of people in relationships will make proposals tomorrow - and engagement ring sales are up at her store - Love says find a different day.
"Valentine's Day, it's all about love that day," she said, "But, we need more Hallmark moments. We need more romantic days."
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Regardless of whether people heed her advice, Love admits Valentine's Day is her favorite day. On Valentine's Day people shop because they want to, not because they have to like Christmas, she said.
Like Christmas, Valentine's Day shoppers - men - procrastinate.
Love and other Valentine's Day merchants say don't worry. Their goal, Love said, is to have men - whether they shop early or at the final seconds - walk out after shopping "feeling like a hero."
Last-minute shoppers should not despair. The special gift that says "I love you" is still available. The key, merchants say, is to be patient and be prepared, come with her personal information - know her favorite colors, her favorite flowers, her favorite kinds of jewelry or other favorite gifts.
"We don't do attitudes," said Madeline Presler-McDonald of the Plant Peddler in Rock Hill. For those last-minute shoppers, Presler-McDonald advises customers to let the florists use their creativity. She also advises fathers to think about their mothers, grandmothers - and their little girls too - by sending them flowers tomorrow.
As for customers, "We won't send you out the door empty-handed," she said.
Roses, as usual, are popular. Estimates of the number of roses used on Valentine's Day range between 100 million and 200 million. That's about $1.7 billion in sales, according to the National Retail Federation.
Average orders at Cindy's Flowers & Gift Shops in Rock Hill are about $300 this year, says Cindy Yarborough. To go with the roses are stuffed animals, cards and balloons - despite a shortage of helium, she said. Another popular item is the Justin Bieber beaver, which sings the teen star's songs.
Sales of candy are expected to top $1.5 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. While you can buy a box of nationally made chocolate, nothing says you care better than hand-made confections.
The Chocolat Boutique in Baxter Village in Fort Mill has truffles, bon bons and gift baskets. But the item that draws people in - as well as lots of Internet orders - is chocolate dipped strawberries, said Gail Van Welsen. Last year, they sold 1,200 chocolate strawberries, and they expect sales to rise this year. "We'll spend the whole day dipping strawberries," she said.
The biggest sales are expected in jewelry with $4.1 billion expected to be spent tomorrow, up $600,000 from last year.
Diamond earrings are among the best sellers at Brownlee Jewelers in Rock Hill, says store manger Melanie McCarter-Vogel. The price range for earrings is from $99 to $6,000, but more than a few men are spending $1,200 on their sweethearts.
"The economy has turned around and most people are paying by debit cards," she said.
Valentine's Day doesn't have to be all about money.
David Tutera, the party and entertainment guru, advises lovebirds to "turn the ordinary into the romantically extraordinary."
According to the Sears survey, 27 percent said they would spend a "low-key" evening at home tomorrow. Tutera advised couples to turn the night into a walk down romantic memory lane. Possibilities are making the meal you shared on your first date or other special occasion.
And, he says, remember that the calendar is just a piece of paper. If tomorrow is not convenient move your celebration to the weekend when you won't be rushed or stressed and in the mood for love.
Sellers celebrate, too
For those selling flowers, jewelry, chocolate or any other Valentine's Day gifts, Tuesday and the week preceding it are nonstop work.
So how do the people who make Valentine's Day special for you celebrate?
Cindy Yarborough, Cindy's Flowers & Gift Shop
"I love trips." It's a chance to rest, shop, and even visit with grandchildren.
Madeline Presler-McDonald, Plant Peddler:
Receiving flowers at the shop from her boyfriend. "When it's your turn, it's cool!"
Allison Love, Allison Love's Fine Jewelry:
"I'm looking to be surprised."
Melanie McCarter-Vogel, Brownlee Jewelers:
Attending Tuesday's Winthrop basketball game, where she will give away at set of $1,620 earrings: "I'm going to make someone's night great!"