It’s Mothers’ Day on Sunday March 14. Florists are closed other than for click & collect and deliveries – and the cost of flowers has soared in the Covid-19 pandemic. So don’t say you weren’t warned!
Most of the UK’s fresh flowers are bought at auction in the Netherlands and since the pandemic many growers have ceased trading.
The shortage of flowers has forced up prices with one florist reporting that a single Asiatic lily that cost 75p before VAT this time last year was now around £1.55.
Paul Stevens, who has run Inspirations Florist in Salendine Nook for 20 years, said there was a “big pressure” on prices.
He said the doubling in price of the Asiatic lily was just one example of rising prices and he added: “I have never known it like this and it keeps me up at night. I don’t know how much further we are going to go.”
With shops closed to passing trade and only open for click and collect, Paul advised customers looking for Mothers’ Day bouquets to get their orders in early.
“Please don’t ring the day before thinking it’s just like normal,” he said. “There’s nothing normal about the flower industry right now.”
Lindsay Foster, who has run Lincoln’s Florist in Huddersfield’s Queensgate Market for 14 years, is working hard for her loyal customers and set up a new online shop to keep trading during the pandemic.
She said: “There is a major issue with flower prices though prices do go up and down anyway. We took a hit on Valentines’ Day as you can’t send out flowers that look poor so we barely made any profit.
“Around Valentines’ Day we had two or three people shouting at me. Because of how our shutters work they don’t come right down and people were shouting about why we wouldn’t serve them.
“I said it was because we were closed and I didn’t want a £10,000 fine. We do get the Covid police around and we have to follow the rules.”
Lindsay, whose daughter Jaimie, 19, has boosted the business massively on social media, said there was no such thing as passing trade or last minute grab-and-go.
“People need to order in good time,” said Lindsay. “Maybe in normal times I would have spent £1,000 on flowers for the day before but this year we can’t risk spending money on stock we might not sell.”
Lindsay says her trade is down by half but she describes herself as “Mrs Optimistic” and she says they will battle through.
“We bought the business just as the great recession hit in 2006 and if you can survive that you can survive anything,” she said. “Back then we didn’t have any grants or financial support and the first thing people stopped buying were flowers.”
Marilliam Flowers, a Huddersfield-based flower wholesaler which supplies customers across Yorkshire, Lancashire and Lincolnshire, import flowers from big wholesalers who buy bulk at the auctions in the Netherlands.
Sales manager Mark Coverdale said prices had risen due to supply and demand and the loss of growers who went out of business during the first lockdown. Brexit had also had an impact on prices too.
Mark warned it may be summer before prices come down.