If you aren’t in the floral industry, perhaps you’ve found yourself wondering why flowers, and especially roses are so expensive at Valentine’s Day. You’ve probably wondered if all of the florists out there are just ripping you off because they can, or if there is something more to it. I can assure you, we as florists are not just ripping our customers off. In fact, I wish I could still offer flowers at the same prices as usual for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day as I can the rest of the year.
Unfortunately, it goes much further than just the florists. Most of the roses in the United States that are sold by florists and grocery stores etc etc are grown on big farms, many of them in South America as it turns out. These farms have to dedicate a large amount of their growing space, energy and labor into producing enough red roses for Valentine’s Day every year. As I understand it, most of the time a lot of that land that is used for Valentine’s Day’s red roses is not able to be utilized as much the rest of the year as the demand for roses is not any near as high the rest of the time. They also have to start getting the roses ready to be at the perfect stage of blooming by deadheading (cutting off the flowers) of many of the roses sometime in December. This is why roses are fairly scarce and can also be more expensive in December right around Christmas. It is truly about supply and demand. The farms push really really hard to be able to produce enough red roses (and other roses/flowers) to satisfy the demands of Valentine’s Day which are around ten times the normal demand on non holidays.
If you also look at the strains that were put on the flower growing industry early on when Covid began, you’ll be able to see why this year especially, flowers will be expensive at Valentine’s Day. When Covid started and everything shut down, so too did a lot of the flower growers. Many of them had to lay off workers and reduce their production at crucial times that mean that there have been rose shortages here and there since shortly after Covid really started. Even on typical weeks there were times that a rose would cost a florist twice or more what it normally costs. Of course, those costs get passed onto our customers.
Even during typical years wholesale rose prices basically double around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. When I used to work grocery floral, I wondered if they just increased the price because they could, but they too were paying about double what they normally paid. In order to be able to offer the products year after year florists and grocery stores (that aren’t using flowers solely as a loss leader) have to make some profit on those flowers to stay in business, pay their employees and keep on keeping on. I typically buy long stemmed premium 70 cm roses when I can, and those prices are at least doubled for Valentine’s Day. Last year, I bought 50 cm premium roses and paid about 1.5 times what I usually pay for the 70cms. I thought they were good quality (I have a great wholesaler in the city) but I remember wishing they had bigger heads (flowers) on them.
I’ve been contemplating making all designer’s choice arrangements next year in valentine’s colors, but without the focus on roses as it would allow me a lot more creative freedom, and I’ll be able to pack the arrangements much more full with flowery goodness for the money (keep in mind, the wholesale cost of basically every other flower and green goes up at valentine’s as well, just not nearly as steeply typically as do (red) roses) . So far, I’ve always felt like Valentine’s Day is such a traditional holiday that it might not go over well, but it would fit better with my usual offerings and like I said, I would be able to put more goodness into each vase for the same money.
There is one other main thing about Valentine’s Day that keeps prices high. It is basically like a big gamble as a florist preordering flowers. I am still quite small, so my current order is set at around 75 roses and I’ve been hemming and hawing deciding whether I’d like to bump it up to 125-175 roses. On one of the Facebook florist groups I’m a part of many of the other florists mention preordering between 600-8000 (yes 8000 or even up to 12000) roses. I’m not anywhere near that big or ambitious at the moment! Even so, making the jump from 75 roses up to 125-175 roses is a big decision. If I don’t sell a certain percentage of them I’ll lose money on the holiday and most likely have worked really really tirelessly hard doing so. Last year, for instance I went for it, ordered 125 roses and a bunch of chocolates and sold a modest amount, worked really really hard and lost about $500.
Luckily, the farmer’s markets were a lot more successful for me in the summer, thus I was able to donate to some really great organizations at the end of the year. Perhaps, though you can see that it is not because florists want to charge you a lot of money at the holidays. In fact, I would love to be able to charge what I normally charge and still deliver stunning arrangements at Valentine’s Day, but I simply can’t. I don’t have the buying power of super large grocery stores or the massive nest egg to absorb big losses. All of that being said, and it was a lot! Flowers are popular at Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day for a reason, and especially during Covid. Flowers are basically emotions delivered. They can brighten a space and one’s mind and are a living scented physical expression of love. What could be better!