Flowers

Flowers for Valentine’s Day? Expect to pay more this year, Western Pa. florists say

Local florists with decades of experience agree: Flower prices this Valentine’s Day will be historically high.

Janet Woloszyk, owner of McCandless Floral, estimated her cost of flowers has increased about 20%, while her cost of hard goods such as containers and glassware is up nearly 40%.

Those increases are tacked onto the normal surcharge of flowers around Valentine’s Day. Florists’ costs typically increase 50% to 85% during the holiday because of high demand, Woloszyk said.

“Everybody might say, ‘Florists are getting rich at Valentine’s Day,’ but that’s probably not the case,” Woloszyk said. “I have to do twice as much business to make as much profit margin.”

These higher costs will result in flowers costing more compared with previous years. At McCandless Floral, a dozen roses that typically cost $90 for Valentine’s Day this year will be $129.

Springdale Floral and Gift Shop will sell a dozen roses for $100 to $120, up from about $85-90, and Joseph Thomas Flower Shop in downtown Greensburg has modestly increased its price to $90 rather than $85.

Pat and Sue Thomas, owners of the South Main Street business that lays claim to being the oldest FTD flower shop in Pennsylvania, having been open since 1895, said the coronavirus pandemic caused the costliest impact on the floral industry during their generation.

“You’re not just paying for the product. You’re (also) paying other fees,” Sue Thomas said, citing shortages and delivery delays.

Though supply of many products is low, that is not the case for flowers. All three shops said they had no issues receiving the number of flowers they needed.

Getting flowers has not been an issue, said Diana Scalamogna, an owner at BW Wholesale Co. in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. Her business has been fully stocked with a wide variety of flowers, but the price increases can be attributed to “expensive” shipping and higher fuel costs, she said.

But there is a “big shortage” of hard goods such as popular vases, floral foam and boxes, said Debby McSwiggen, manager of subsidiary BW Keystone Floral Supply.

“I’ve been here for over 30 years, and this is the first time I’ve seen anything like this,” she said.

At Pugliese Flowers & Gifts in Vandergrift, owner Todd Sterlitz said prices on a dozen roses have increased almost $15 compared with last year. He said business is still brisk, but it’s unprecended times in the floral world because of the pandemic.

“My flower prices are up about 20% to 30%, and I can’t get sunflowers and other flowers right now,” Sterlitz said. “The customers are having to select other colors or flowers. The customers have been very understanding though.”

Joyce Hanz | Tribune-Review

Floral artist Aimee Kelly works on an order Friday at Pugliese Flowers and Gifts in Vandergrift.

Sterlitz said the majority of his flowers are shipped from South America, and, with the pandemic, supply and staffing issues have been ongoing. That’s part of the problem. “They can’t get people to work in the farms, and it’s all covid-related,” Sterlitz said.

Inflation and supply chain women are sweeping across the nation. The US Department of Labor this week said consumer prices increased 7.5% between January 2022 and January 2021 — the biggest increase in 40 years.

The National Retail Federation predicts Americans will spend $23.9 billion on Valentine’s Day this year, which would be the second-highest ever — behind only the $27.4 billion spent in 2020. Consumers said they planned to spend an average of $175.41 this year on Valentine’s Day gifts , the NRF survey found.

“The flowers are beautiful that we’re getting in,” said Al Zimmerly, owner of Springdale Floral and Gift Shop. “People like to get fresh flowers. There’s nothing like it, really.”

Sue Thomas advised those who still want to buy flowers to do so as soon as possible.

Woloszyk encouraged shoppers to buy from a local shop rather than an online business.

For those who want to buy something other than roses, Woloszyk recommended carnations, daisies, sunflowers or a mixed bouquet. However, she said, customers should be prepared to pay higher prices across the board.

“You are going to pay a little bit more at Valentine’s Day just because the cost of shipping and cost of flowers has gone up,” Woloszyk said. “We have always based our pricing on what we pay, and I think people understand that.”

Maddie Aiken is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Maddie by email at maiken@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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