Rafi Mohammed

Valentines Day Rose Prices...the Best Value of the Year?

Posted on February 13th, 2008 (0 Comments)

Like many of you, I’ve long believed that Valentines Day reaps armored truck loads of profits for florists. We all are familiar with (and grumble about) the ritual mid-February price hike for roses. A cursory check of Boston rose prices reveals that a $20 premium is being charged for a dozen roses during the Valentines Day holiday. Though top rated florist, Winston Flowers, is charging an additional $35 a dozen, a 44% premium over its normal prices. 195 million roses will be sold this Valentines Day, 64% of them red.

I recently interviewed Christine Boldt, the executive vice president of the Association of Floral Importers of Florida. Christine was quick to point out that Valentines Day flowers aren’t as profitable as you may think. Sure, she acknowledges that retail prices rise but most of us don’t realize that wholesale prices skyrocket for the following reasons:

  • Rose fields need to be meticulously timed to bloom within the 10 day Valentines blooming period. This means that fields go barren (production put on hold) to ensure roses are ready for the big day. This missed revenue needs to be made up. Interestingly, Christine points out that because of this timing, supply of red roses actually goes down before Valentines Day. This is why Christmas holiday arrangements tend to skimp on red roses – limited supply leads to higher prices which incentivizes florist to find floral alternatives.
  • Harvesting flowers is very labor intensive, so growers have to hire more workers.
  • The number of air cargo flights double - costs blossom because planes often fly back empty to Columbia and Bogota to transport the increased supply of roses.
  • Wholesalers work overtime to prepare and transport the additional volume.
  • Christine’s point is clear: it costs more to overload the infrastructure to handle increased rose demand. This translates into at least a 50% increase in wholesale prices she claims. This 50% estimate may be conservative, an admittedly dated New York Times article quotes a florist as saying “every year (at Valentines Day) wholesalers double or triple their prices.”

    Sure, the concept of value - roses are generally more valuable to consumers this week compared to any other time of the year - enables florists to boost prices. But the additional costs to accommodate higher volume erase most of these gains. In fact, Christine claims that florists often make a higher margin (profit per dozen roses) during the summer than on Valentines Day.

    So before grumbling about rose prices this Valentines Day, remember that your local florist is actually making less profit on your rose purchase than they normally do.

    Happy Valentines Day!

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