Typically when a florist writes a blog it’s about a beautiful wedding that they curated, an event or maybe an upcoming or past holiday. We want to take a few minutes to talk about inflation and flower costs and how it compares to other price increases in your life. I know…BOOORING, but it needs to be said. Those in this industry are shy about talking costs, bottom line and profits. Honestly, we’re scared shitless of losing customers because our margins are so slim and we don’t want to run anyone off.
As much as we believe flowers and florists are essential, we are about as “essential” as a Reese’s peanut butter cup or that cup of coffee in the morning. For some of us, we DO consider these things essential and why not?! These are the things that bring joy to our lives when we need it most. The same can be said for flowers; that’s why we’re here and have been for the past 21 years. Florists have been around forever. According to Wikipedia, the first flower shop opened in the U.S. prior to 1851. If you pay attention to your local florist, they have probably changed locations (We have 4 times), transitioned from a brick and mortar to a studio, or they are no longer in business. In our years in business in Seattle, we’ve seen many shops come and go and others move. Why is this? It could be a multitude of reasons but the biggest being operating costs. Increases in rent, wholesale flower and supply costs, gas and delivery van repairs, employee wages/benefits (especially if you want to retain good people), website maintenance + hosting, the list goes on. If you watch the news or pay attention to real estate, you know that Seattle is ridiculously expensive. Landlords raise rent often with little control from the renter. You’ve probably noticed other significant increases in your daily life from groceries to fuel and have you dined out lately? Some seem to think that even though everything has increased in price, that somehow flower costs should remain the same.
Ok, the point…
We love what we do, we want to be here for your flower needs: sending birthday, congratulations and sympathy flowers or curating that holiday party, summer soiree or wedding but we need the perception of cost to change. Florists get a bad rap when it comes to flower cost. We hear a lot of chatter around holidays (especially Valentine’s Day) that we are ripping customers off. What you might not know is that the most popular flowers on Valentine’s Day increase up to 75% in wholesale cost. We also must submit our entire flower order to our suppliers over a month ahead of time. That means we shoot in the dark as to how busy it will be year to year. What day of the week does Valentine’s Day fall on? THIS MATTERS, drastically! We have a history, so we have a better idea than some but that doesn’t account for unforeseen circumstances like the occasional Seattle blizzard (February 2021). When it happens, the city shuts down and we can lose our entire inventory. If our drivers can’t deliver because of dangerous road conditions or our customers aren’t walking in for the same reasons, we lose out. Flowers don’t have a long shelf life. We buy fresh and sell fresh. If they sit too long, we don’t sell them. Nobody wants to buy flowers that are expired 2 days later; that’s why we don’t sell old flowers.
Some statistics for you:
General candy costs have gone up 40% over the past decade according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Coffee prices have increased just over 100% since 2004 according to U.S. Inflation Calculator.
You may have noticed some tricks that large companies use to hide this fact (or maybe not). I remember when there was basically one size Snicker Bar, Milky Way Bar, Twix, etc. Of course, there was always the mini version that was available mostly around Halloween. Now there are “large” versions of these bars or “double” versions where you get two smaller bars in one package instead of the original. There are also tons of variations to these traditional candy bars. Why? Partly to create confusion with the cost and size. If there is a bigger variety of choice the cost increase and size decrease aren’t as noticeable. You may have noticed I don’t have a reference for historical flower prices and increases. That’s because (like I stated earlier), nobody wants to openly talk about it. Also, it is one of the only retail businesses that can “fill an order to price” You can walk into a flower shop and say, “I’d like a bouquet for $50.00” and we can make it. It may be smaller (or bigger) than you expected or want it to be but for better or worse, it’s mysterious when it comes to the economics of it…except that florists operate in a billion dollar industry.
Ok, if you’ve made it this far you clearly care or are really bored. It’s much more difficult for us to use the ‘tricks’ noted above to hide the inflation of flowers. Frankly, it’s not our jam. We put out the same quality product that we always have while maintaining the size and artistry. Unfortunately, this means the bouquet you purchased 10 years ago should be double the price. I know…that seems like a lot. To get personal, our gross revenue has remained steady over the past 5 years which is actually a problem. Not only have our flower costs increased significantly but our other costs (noted above) have increased; we have a great team that has been with us for several years and we would like to keep them!
Bottom line, we hope you don’t remove flowers from your budget. Buy them, make someone happy, make yourself happy, do it more often. You’re worth it, they are worth it!