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Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about big spending and lavish gifts.

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To prove it, I went shopping in Ilford town centre with just £10 to spend on a card and presents.

My first port of call was the Body Shop in the Exchange Ilford shopping centre, where I picked up some pink strawberry lip balm for £2.

Sales assistant Leon Legorji said the bestsellers for the romantically-minded were strawberry, chocolate and moringa flower body butter.

“I suppose it’s a different way of doing the traditional flowers and chocolate, and strawberries are very romantic,” he said.

Chocolates are a safe bet so the next stop was Thornton’s, also in the Exchange, where a chocolate love bird was £1.99. Jan Daw said it was her 18th Valentine’s Day working in the chocolate shop, but not much has changed. “I’d say it’s about 60-40 the number of men to women we have. Everybody likes chocolate. Heart-shaped boxes are the most popular, no matter what the cost. A lot of people leave it to the last minute and even come in on the day, especially the men.”

Furry handcuffs

Rebecca Atanda, marketing co-ordinator at the Exchange Ilford, said for some shops Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest times of the year: “Perfumers, gift shops, chocolatiers and jewellers – it is a key time for them. Other retailers selling clothes and shoes don’t see a drastic increase in sales but we do a lot of gift cards.”

The budget was running low after blowing £3.50 on some dangly earrings made of interlinking hearts at Claire’s Accessories, so I thought I’d give Poundland a go.

Red furry handcuffs seemed to be the top seller in the ravaged Valentine’s section so they went in the basket along with a cuddly teddy bear.

With just 51p left to spend, I went to the Card Factory, in High Road, for something to get the all-important message across.

A beautiful sparkly card cost 59p, pushing the haul slightly over budget.

So boyfriends on a budget take note – you can get chocolate, jewellery, make-up, a cuddly toy and a card for just £10. Who said romance is dead?

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