Can’t buy me love?

Americans are expected to spend a record amount on Valentine’s Day this year, despite a years-long decrease in the percentage of people celebrating the holiday, according to the annual survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

“Those who are participating are spending more than ever and that could be the result of the strong economy,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

Those surveyed said they would spend an average of $161.96. That’s up 13 percent from last year’s $143.56 and easily tops the previous record of $146.84, which was set in 2016. Total spending is expected to be $20.7 billion, an increase of 6 percent over last year’s $19.6 billion that breaks the previous record of $19.7 billion, also set in 2016.

The spending increases come even though only 51 percent of Americans plan to celebrate the holiday, down from 55 percent last year and a high of 63 percent in 2007.

According to the survey, 52 percent of participants will be buying candy.

“Valentine’s Day is one of the major holidays that keeps us going through the year,” said Adam Wiley, co-owner of Bedford Candies. “At Valentine’s Day, we see an influx of sales. We sell a lot of fresh fruit in addition to our regular candies. We offer strawberries, raspberries and blueberries dipped in dark, white or milk chocolate.”

“It is a very important holiday for us. Not only do we make our regular candy but we do a lot of chocolate-covered strawberries — that is our specialty. In two days, we will dip between 150 and 200 pounds of strawberries,” said Jerry Moore, owner of Dutch Hill Chocolates, 1624 First Ave.

Valentine’s Day is also a big holiday for Tyrone-based Gardners Candies.

“It is a very busy day and we look forward to it very much,” President Sam Phillips said. “Being in the middle of the week means men will stop by after work to pick up candy for their sweetheart. Hopefully, the weather will be good. Valentine’s Day is traditionally a candy holiday and something we look forward to. The Valentine’s hearts are always the most popular. Any color will sell as long as it is red.”

The survey also indicated about 35 percent of those celebrating will buy flowers.

“I have to say, being on Thursday makes myself and other florists more optimistic. It is the most demanding day of the year, whether inside the shop with prepping or the guys delivering. We have high expectations,” said Debbie Arnsparger, owner of Creative Expressions Florist, 3977 Sixth Ave.

Arnsparger said she will be selling more than roses.

“Tradition has been roses. I think there has been an uptick especially with the younger women. They are not wanting what mom and grandma got,” Arnsparger said. “I am going heavy on mixed bouquets in a vase or hand held. That is what the young folks like, a nice bouquet. I really think that is what is most popular with the younger generation.”

Valentine’s Day is also very important to Peterman’s Flower Shop, 608 N. Fourth Ave.

“It is the start of our busiest time. It gives us a big boost in sales and is a good way to get people into the store. We get a lot of walk-in customers,” owner Andrea Hammel said. “The classic long-stem red roses are beautiful and to die for; they are romantic and rich. A lot of people like potted plants and orchids. Anything with color that is vibrant will be popular this year after the dreary weather we have had.”

Other local floral shops also expect to be busy.

“We expect a nice turnout because it is on a weekday rather than the weekend. It is one of our busiest holidays. Most people go out for dinner if on a weekend, but when it is during the week, a lot of people send flowers to her office or workplace,” said manager Chelsea Kerr of Kerr Kreations Floral and Gift Shoppe, 1417 11th Ave.

“It is the busiest day of the year for us. Roses are the big thing. A lot of people think roses are too expensive. They can get hanging plants that will last or a nice flower arrangement is an option. You can spend what you want,” said manager Roy Amrhein of Sunrise Floral & Gifts, 400 Beech Ave., which also sells gifts geared toward the guys.

About 34 percent of those celebrating will enjoy an evening out, according to the survey.

“On Valentine’s Day, you take out your favorite lady and Finelli’s will be ready for you. You can make a fuss about her. Pick up some flowers and a gift and take her our to eat,” said owner Frank Finelli of Finelli’s Italian Villa, 1808 Fourth Ave. “It doesn’t matter what the weather is like, even if we have 3 feet of snow, there won’t be any cancellations for Valen­tine’s Day. They will still come.”

The Allegro Restaurant, 3926 Broad Ave., has been serving Valentine’s Day dinners for more than 40 years.

“It is huge. What is good about Thursday is that we will get some residual traffic on Friday and Saturday from people who don’t want to go out Thursday,” owner Dan Taddei said. “We take what we can handle and go from there.”

Only about 18 percent of those celebrating will purchase jewelry, but they will spend the most money — about $3.9 billion.

Local jewelers are excited about the holiday.

“We expect a very big Valentine’s Day. Our fall season was excellent and we expect that to continue. Our new store at Plank Road and Logan Boulevard didn’t hurt. We have had a terrific response to the store and we expect that will continue with increased sales for Valentine’s Day,” said Michael Kranich Jr., president of Kranich’s Jewelers. “We sell a lot of engagement rings this time of year and we focus on the $99 to $199 items — they are my best sellers for Valentine’s Day. We always feature diamond heart pendants for Valentine’s Day.”

Mike Dorman, owner of Dorman’s Jewelry, 712 Pleasant Valley Blvd., said the holiday is pretty big for his store.

“We do a lot of volume. We focus on the $100 to $200 price ticket,” Dorman said. “We always have some big spenders, but we have to focus on the price point for Valentine’s Day. Earrings are popular right now. Colored stone jewelry is popular and watches are always a big thing for the holidays.”

Beerbower Jewelers of Hollidaysburg is also ready for Valentine’s Day.

“I have plenty of items in stock to cover sales. It is better to shop early. We have some elastic fresh water pearl bracelets that are nice, diamond earrings, pendants and bracelets. Hearts are always popular and we also have the colored dipped roses that last a lifetime — people like them,” President Don Beerbower said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.