How anyone could have possibly missed the merchandising that’s been on the shelves since Christmas went to clearance is beyond me, but in case you’ve forgotten, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Pull out the wallet and warm up the plastic, it’s time to say goodbye to your money.

Traditionally a day of love, romance and long lines for dinner reservations, Valentine’s Day means something different to everyone, but gifts are expected. Champagne and dancing or long-stemmed roses are fine choices as are perfume and jewelry. Romance seems best enjoyed by those not strapped for cash. Pity for the rest of us with children in college or home improvement projects ongoing. The bottom line is letting your significant other know how much you care while simultaneously fueling our retail economy.

Many ladies do enjoy boxed chocolates — hint, hint, dear — or mushy cards. They get the message across nicely without an outlandish cost and apparently about 144 million people choose them. Online statistics state Americans will spend a whopping $27 billion on this holiday in 2020. That is billion with a “b,” my friends. It’s also an increase of some $7 billion over the year before, so somebody must have gotten a raise.

Furthermore, last year most spent about a Benjamin-and-a-half but expect to spend a full $200 for this year’s holiday. That is a lot of chocolate-dipped, long-stemmed dollars for what is hailed the most romantic day of the year. Did we budget for this?

If that number doesn’t put a sparkle in a retailer’s eye, perhaps the nearly five billion expected in jewelry sales will do the trick. It’s been a long time since bling graced my Valentine’s Day and I sort of recall it departing as mortgage payments hit. Life is expensive and concessions must be made somewhere, right?

Not surprisingly, this holiday of love is no longer relegated to the parental units of the household or love-struck teens. A whole plethora of holiday items are now readily available for your pets. No longer are they limited to gobbling down gourmet dog treats after their grooming or spa treatments, but pet parents are now adding furry freeloaders to their Valentine’s shopping.

At the Harris Hacienda, only employed humans get holiday gifts except for Christmas stockings. I’m OK with not being part of the nearly 27% of consumers buying a gift for our pets. I’ve got to hold the line somewhere, right?

Another interesting statistic is that the younger — hopefully very much gainfully employed generation — is focused not on gifts but experiences. All sorts of romantic ideas abound on the Web to ensure one can provide a social media-worthy photographically appropriate holiday to grace the feed. None of it comes cheap and some ideas, like horseback riding, got an eyebrow rise from me. Have you ever been horseback riding? I have and I don’t recall any thoughts of frisky romance sounding like a good idea after just an hour on this large animal. To each their own, I suppose.

Whether you’re buying local or giving the E-commerce a spin, may I suggest a hand-written letter be enclosed with whatever commercial item you choose? The power of the pen is mighty when you have thoroughly researched your subject and those words will last long beyond the flowers, chocolates or the likes.