Five-foot-tall Mylar balloons, tulips, orchids, bromelaids and creative arrangements are taking center stage for Valentine’s Day in supermarket floral departments across the country.
But where have all the roses gone? They may be there, too, but they’re not getting the attention they have in the past.
Sales of long-stem roses may be lagging, but some floral managers, encouraged by their sales this past half year, said they’ll offer more upscale presentations this Valentine’s Day than they did last year.
Long-stem red roses, a traditional Valentine’s gift for years, are becoming a bit passe, some floral managers told SN. Maybe it’s because there’s so much more to choose from now, they said. The trend toward buying local, too, could be a factor. It is at Newport Avenue Market in Bend, Ore.
“I’ll bring in some roses, but my best sellers are beautiful tulips that I get from a grower here in Oregon,” said Newport Market’s floral manager, Judy Shaw.
“I like to buy local when I can, and roses just don’t sell like they used to. Compared to what I’ve done in the past, I’ll bring in only half as many roses, only 30 dozen,” Shaw added.
Lowanda Ancheta, floral manager for Hank’s Thriftway in Hillsboro, Ore., was more definite. “I don’t sell long-stem roses,” Ancheta said.
But she added that since she senses the economy is brightening a little in her part of the country, she’s going to offer more selections this year, some with higher price points.
“I’m just making nicer presentations. You get a bead on what your customers will spend,” Ancheta said. “I’ve tracked our floral sales closely for the last six months and I’ve found that every week, sales have been up from the same week a year ago.
“Last year at Valentine’s Day, I stripped it down [to low price point items] and I sold a ton of potted mini roses for $6.99 each. If they wanted to spend a little more, I’d make a nice basket with mini roses in it. The retail was $10.99 for that.”
Balloons were high on Ancheta’s bestseller list last year, too, and 6-inch potted tulips. “I’ll just be less utilitarian this year. I’ll upscale my arrangements.”
Even at K-VA-T’s Food City, Louisa, Ky., where floral manager Debbie Burke said she’ll be selling roses, she’s promoting other items such as balloons, plush teddy bears and arrangements that combine candy bars and flowers. She has already begun spotlighting a 5-foot-tall Mylar balloon shaped like a rose.
“The green stem is 3 feet tall, and then a red rose at the top is 2 feet by 2 feet,” Burke said. She has positioned a row of those right at the front of her department. The giant balloon’s retail: $14.99.
Like Ancheta, Burke expects sales to be up this Valentine’s Day. She also believes customers always want to see something a little different, and want a large variety to choose from.
“Older men still go for long-stem roses, and many of them add a balloon, too. But if a guy is between 25 and 40, I can usually talk him into something different,” Burke said. “Scented, jar candles or a candy bar-flower arrangement.”
Newport Market doesn’t sell balloons anymore.
“They take up too much space, and I found I was spending more on helium than I was making on them,” Shaw said.
She’s promoting bromeliads and orchids as well as her best-selling tulips.
And she also encourages men to create their own bouquets, choosing the stems themselves, but she said that the combinations they choose sometimes present a challenge. A bird of paradise, two spider mums and a tulip?
“I often wonder how I can make what they’ve chosen look good, but I do. Then wrap them in paper with hearts on it. It works.” A wife or girlfriend could not accuse the man of just thoughtlessly grabbing a bouquet from a display.
“I tell them that they can say they made up the bouquet themselves. They like that,” Shaw said. Valentine’s Day falling on Tuesday is a good thing, floral managers agreed.
“If it falls on a weekend, there are too many other alternatives … going out to dinner, going away for the weekend,” one manager said. “If it’s any day during the week, it narrows the possibilities,” often to flowers.