You may want to put a bit more money aside for mom’s carnations this Sunday. Because, just like everything else, flowers are getting more expensive.
For Mother’s Day on May 9, the National Federation of Retailers, a trade organization, predicts that people will spend up to $31.7 billion, up 12% on last year. The group finds that 84% of Americans plan to celebrate their mom in one way or another, and 72% plan to do that by buying flowers.
The NFR’s survey of 8,574 U.S. adults from April 1 to April 11 found that more men than women will buy Mother’s Day flowers, but experts say they should all expect to pay more for those bouquets this year.
A spokesperson for 1-800-Flowers.com, a national online floral and gift retailer, said it expects to deliver approximately 23 million stems for Mother’s Day — the biggest occasion of the year for the company — broadly inline with the group predicted last year.
Florists and suppliers say their profit margins are being squeezed. LaParis Phillips, the owner and principal designer of the New York City floral studio Brooklyn Blooms, said the cost of flower supplies for Mother’s Day have increased by 50 cents to $3 per stem since the onset of the pandemic.
“Florists and suppliers are feeling the squeeze in their profit margins.”
The difference in costs obviously depends on the flower — a daffodil or tulip will cost more than an orchid or a rose — but inflation has been a thorn in the side of florists this year.
“Flowers are not immune to this inflation,” said Chris Drummond, president of the Philadelphia-based florist Penny’s by Plaza Flowers. Depending on the flower, he has seen an increase in costs of 18% to 20%, and in some rare cases, up to 30%.
Compare that to the annual U.S. inflation rate of 8.5% for March, a record high since 1981.
Flowers are delicate, perishable, require skill to grow, and often travel long distances before they reach the dinner table on Mother’s Day.
Most of the eastern states’ florists in the U.S. — including Penny’s by Plaza Flowers — import flowers from Colombian and Ecuadorian farmers. Transportation costs are also increasing, with the rise in gas prices due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Farmers are also managing a higher cost of fertilizer due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Gasoline is a key ingredient for fertilizer, and Western sanctions against Russia — the main global exporter of fertilizer — pushed those prices even higher.
Even the prices of boxes for shipping and the uniforms for the drivers have risen since the beginning of the pandemic. “It’s just a regular component now, ” Drummond said, referring to constant price hikes in the industry.
How much of these costs are florists passing onto customers? Drummond said he is holding off on significant price hikes in the short term, and shouldering a smaller profit margin as a result.
Phillips from Brooklyn Blooms said she is adjusting her prices to account for the aforementioned increase in costs. So far, customers have not raised questions because, she added, most people are aware of rising inflation.
“It’s everywhere, by this point, people should already know,” Phillips said.