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Be my budget-friendly Valentine

By BY ALLISON MILES - AMILES@VICAD.COM
Feb. 9, 2013 at midnight
Updated Feb. 9, 2013 at 8:10 p.m.


How do people plan to celebrate Valentine's Day?

The National Retail Federation's 2013 Valentine's Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGinsight, polled 5,815 consumers and looked at their plans for this year's day of love.

Findings include:

TOP SHOPPING METHODS: (RANKED FROM MOST TO LEAST POPULAR)

• Smartphones

• Discount stores

• Department stores

• Online

• Specialty stores

• Floral shops

• Jewelry stores

• Specialty clothing stores

• Catalogs

TOP GIFTS: (TOTAL NATIONWIDE SPENDING)

• Jewelry: $4.4 billion plus

• Flowers: $1.9 billion plus

• Clothing: $1.6 billion plus

• Candy: $1.6 billion

• Gift cards: $1.5 billion

WHAT THEY'LL SPEND ON WHO:

• Significant other: $73.75

• Family members: $26.46

• Friends: $8.49

• Coworkers: $5.12

From crepe paper streamers to rose-riddled bouquets and box upon gooey box of chocolate, a lot can go in to planning the perfect Valentine's Day.

But time isn't the only contributor to that just-right holiday. Money is another factor.

This year, the average shopper will shell out $130.97 on candy, gifts, decorations and more, according to a National Retail Federation news release. Total spending will reach $18.6 billion.

Still, Crossroads retailers say Cupid's big day doesn't have to break the bank. Here, they offer tips for doing Valentine's Day on a budget.

Shop early.

Selections decrease as the holiday draws near, and you're likely to shell out more money than originally intended. Instead, plan ahead, know what you're looking for and keep with the plan.

Go for quality, not quantity.

A small box with just a few chocolates or even a single red rose can make a big impression. Don't feel the need to spend all your funds on a single holiday.

Think outside the box.

Roses and chocolate are traditional gifts, but why not consider something different? Does your sweetheart harbor a love for gummy worms or other candies? Consider purchasing those. Less expensive flowers can still pack a punch and make a beautiful gift.

Get creative with the card.

A card with a nice message is a gift in itself. Pour your heart out on paper or find a card that doubles as art. Some 3D varieties, for instance, make nice desk displays.

Eye the price tags on bottles.

Wine and champagne are popular Valentine's Day options, and affordable varieties are out there. A store clerk can help you find a quality product within your price range.

Go the gift basket route.

Baskets filled with chocolate-covered treats, game time snacks, candy bouquets and more are available from many retailers and can fit virtually any price range, from $5 on up.

Create a CD.

Purchasing tunes can be expensive. Instead, put together a mix of favorite songs or even songs that have special meaning to your relationship. It shows you care and costs next to nothing.

Order ahead.

Although you won't necessarily pay more for a last-minute order, you also won't get your first pick when it comes to delivery times. With the holiday falling mid-week this year, many people want items delivered to a loved one's workplace. Get orders in early so you're ahead of the game.

Go for simple personalization.

You don't have to go for expensive, monogrammed products to make the gift stand out. Consider a gift bag decorated with the recipient's first initial, for instance. It's a unique detail that won't cost much.

When in doubt, ask.

Store personnel are there to offer assistance. Let them know what you're looking for, as well as a general price range. They can steer you in the right direction.

SOURCES: JAMIE CORTINAS, OWNER OF SWEETIE'S CANDY SHOP AND MORE, BILLY DRIVER, OWNER OF CENTRAL LIQUORS, LOUIE MILLER, MANAGER OF WALLY'S PARTY FACTORY, STANLEY SCHWEKE, OWNER OF THE FOLIAGE SHOPPE, NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION NEWS RELEASE

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