Love, it seems, is recession- proof. While money still can't buy you love, people are having no problem spending it this Valentine's Day.
Amid the dour economic indicators and high unemployment rate, local businesses are reporting that sales for that most romantic day of the year have remained steady and in some cases are even higher than last year.
"We're not feeling the economy as far as Valentine's Day goes," said Galletto Ristorante General Manager Zole Andahazy. "People will celebrate it no matter what."
The downtown Modesto restaurant has been booked up all week for its Valentine's dinner.
The calls for reservations started in January, so to accommodate more guests the restaurant is starting its dinner service early at 3:30 p.m.
Like Galletto, fellow downtown eateries such as Dewz, Clayton's and Tresetti's will be packed for Valentine's. Last-minute planners will be hard pressed to find a reservation around town.
"We've had Tresetti's for 16 years and I think this Valentine's is much like the ones in the past," said restaurant co-owner Mitch Maisetti, who also owns Clayton's. "It's a celebratory thing, it's not just let's grab something to eat. You're taking your sweetheart out."
But restaurants aren't the only ones experiencing an economic jolt from Cupid's arrow. The line was out the door at the McHenry Village See's Candies store Friday morning.
At nearby Edwards Jewelers in McHenry Village, business has been a little better than last year. Co-owner Sam Jennings said customers have been looking at items large and small.
Relatively inexpensive Pandora Jewelry customizable bracelets and charms have been very popular.
"It's very affordable and very fun," he said. "(People) are just looking to see what is out there. So we try to carry a range of items for everybody."
He said the store has been busy all week and expects even more Saturday as last-minute gift givers come in to find something special for their sweethearts.
Across town at Modesto's Rogers Jewelers on Sisk Road, business is also going smoothly. Marketing Director Calvin Curtin said most of the company's 10 locations from Bakersfield to Reno are ahead or even with last year. Only one is slightly behind its 2009 sales figures while another has tripled its business.
"Even in a down economy, customers always have something to say to someone they love, and jewelry is the one gift they can give that has lasting value," Curtin said.
He said some buying habits have changed because of the economic climate. Whereas a few years ago someone might have come in looking for gold, today that same person might pick silver instead.
"I would say (Valentine's) is recession-resistant," he said. "People will still buy. They might not buy as much as they used to, but they'll still buy."
For florists, Valentine's Day sales have less to do with the economy and more to do with the day of the week. With Valentine's on a Sunday, and part of a three-day weekend thanks to Presidents Day, business is steady or slightly down right now.
Hart Floral owner Chris Downing said orders have been coming in all week. The store is about 10 percent below last year, but he said procrastinating lovebirds may pick up the slack by the time the weekend is over.
Over at downtown Modesto's Janet's Flowers, orders are about the same, if not slightly higher, than last year.
"It's surprising that in spite of the economy we still have people putting out the big dollars," said Manager Ann Price. "We're really pleased with how it's going. So, yeah, people still want to say it with flowers."
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2284.