As a consumer I like to think I am getting a good deal, and now as a business owner I like to give value for money... But what happens when cost prices increase? We still need to buy product, we still need to sell it, we still need to pay the bills and we still need to make a profit... We need to consider wages, rent, cost price, tax, bills, wrapping, wastage and so much more... So, we need to make sure we price our flowers to allow for this.
After a horrid few weeks of buying at abnormally high prices, I want to give you an insight into our business as a florist, as the other day I was talking to a friend and was made aware that they thought that at peak times like Valentine's and Mother's day, we florists hike the price to make a buck off our customers... This is not the case and definitely not the reason why prices increase at this time, or any other... And why what you pay per stem last week may differ from what you pay this week.
As florists we work with perishable items, items with a limited shelf life, items that we need to sell fast, so it is important that we sell them at a suitable price. There are basically 3 ways for us to purchase our blooms - at auction, via a broker, or direct from the grower. If you are one of the lucky few who have a grower account you pay a set price - however supply is not guaranteed as it all depends on the availability of the product. At the moment it is very rare to have a grower accept a new account as they are basically at their supply limits already. Buying from a broker is another option if perhaps the florist is outside the main centres or would prefer to send an order and have it filled for them. However, the majority of florists buy their flowers at the flower auctions which are in the main centres. All options are reliant on supply and weather, time of year, Mother Nature and more. All these have a hand in the quantities and availability of flowers at any time of the year.
Buying at the flower auction is not as straight forward as you may think. A normal auction works by bidding with an increase of the price until you win, however we buy our flowers via a Dutch auction system. A Dutch auction works in reverse. The price clock tracks downwards from a high start point and we bid at a price we want to pay. The florist who bids first (at the highest price) wins the auction. So it becomes a bit of a guessing game. As we want to buy at the lowest possible price, but we also want the item. This is why weddings are charged at a higher rate, as a bride wants what she wants and the only way we can get that for her is to beat the clock and pay top dollar.
Unfortunately this is also what happens at peak times - Valentine's and Mother's Day. We have a supply of orders that we need to send, so we need to make sure we have the blooms to do this. At these times, the issue is so does every other florist, supermarket, and dairy in town. So we then are buying at a rate far higher than normal, so that we can ensure we have the blooms for your order. As there is also only a limited availability of stock at any auction.
To give you an example, I have a wedding this weekend. A particular dark red rose was requested. I am lucky to have an account with a rose grower and have a weekly order with them. However this week, they did not have the availability of the roses I needed, so I had to play the gauntlet at auction. I checked the list prior to the auction and saw that there were only 2 lots of these roses available... So to ensure I had these for my bride, I paid a premium price for them. Not a fun way to start the day!
We have also just come out of a peak period for flowers - Mother's Day, and normally prices would have tracked back down to what I consider normal prices by now... however for whatever reasons, whether we are living through the affects of destroyed crops in 2020 from level 4 lockdown, whether there are more buyers out there, whether there are more events that need supply, or whether there is simply less availability for the market, we are still buying our flowers at an extremely high price. I am buying blooms at prices in line with and higher than what I paid at Mother's Day... which means we have to work out a price that you the customer will still be content paying and ensuring we meet the needs of our business.
So next time you think a florist is charging way too much, be kind, be grateful, as we, like any other business price our flowers based on the cost price... It just so happens that this is constantly moving and therefore our prices need to do the same.