BY O.J. EARLY
Candy, cards and flowers. All traditional ways of showing that special someone just how you feel on Valentine's Day.
But with a slow economy and high unemployment, it would seem reasonable that many people won't be forking over loads of cash in connection with today's occasion.
According to a survey commissioned by the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans will spend more than $18 billion on Valentine's Day gifts this year.
The average person who celebrates the love holiday is expected to shell out $130.97, up from $126.03 in 2012, according to the NRF.
"My phone has been attached to the ear taking orders all day," said Donna Shannon, an employee at Flowers by Tammy at mid-afternoon on Wednesday.
Shannon was one of several local flower shop spokespersons reporting a hectic Wednesday, as consumers rushed to order or pick up last-minute gifts.
"There have been a lot more orders this year," said Karon Stout, owner of East Greeneville Florist. "We'll probably be here until midnight," she added with a laugh on Wednesday afternoon.
Alex McLean, co-owner of Ireene's Flower Shoppe, said: "It's busy. It seems like a good year."
Flower-seekers were also visiting Scott's Florist, office manager Debbie Ramsey said.
"It has been relatively busy here," Ramsey said. "Obviously, the economy is taking a toll on what people can spend."
According to Charlotte Justice of Westown Florist, "This year appears to be even better than last year, business-wise. Red roses are popular as usual, but pink is also big this year, as are mixed-flower arrangements."
Debbie Hale with the Food City Floral Boutique, Asheville Highway, says that this year's business seems to be about the same as last year -- "very busy, selling lots of different colors of roses, but many cut flowers as well."
Carlene Shelton, of Food City Floral Boutique, Snapps Ferry Road, reports that the boutique has been extremely busy, selling mainly roses.
Juanetta Swatzell with the Ingles Market 70, Andrew Johnson Highway, says their flower business for Valentine's Day seems to be on the increase from last year. They are selling mostly red roses by the dozen.
At Holley Creek Florist, a spokesman said Wednesday afternoon that the shop was so busy that he could not even take time out for an interview.
Red roses -- the quintessential Valentine's Day gift -- as well as roses of other colors and mixed bouquets were favorites among consumers at most floral shops, local retailers said Wednesday.
More than 50 percent of those celebrating Valentine's Day were expected to buy candy, and nearly 40 percent said they would purchase flowers, according to the NRF.
Greeting cards, as always, were also expected to be popular gifts, the report said.
"We've had our busy spurts," said Phoebe Moon, an employee at Carolyn's Hallmark Shop. "You can tell that the economy has kind of slowed things down, but we're still getting our last-minute shoppers."
To be sure, not everyone is feeling festive. In 2012, for example, 41 percent of adults said they wouldn't be celebrating Valentine's Day, the NRF reported.
Still, local Valentine's Day-related shopping appears strong.
"It's men's greatest shopping day," said Tammy Burgner, owner of Flowers by Tammy.
"They'll forget Christmas, birthdays, holidays -- but not Valentine's Day. It's really admirable."
Accent Editor Kathy Knight contributed to this article.