Thursday 21 March 2019

Romance hits Romeos' wallets as Valentine flower prices soar

Fiach Kelly

A number of florists have doubled their prices in an attempt to cash in on today's expected Valentine's Day rush.

A telephone survey carried out by the Irish Independent showed that almost all florists contacted hiked their prices for February 14, even though the amount charged varied significantly from shop to shop.

Double price jumps were not uncommon, with Abbey Blooms in Dundalk and Branching Out on Morehampton Road in Dublin 4 admitting jumps from €50 to €100 and €42 to €90 respectively.

Most of the florists contacted put the blame for the price increases down to the simple law of supply and demand -- with some claiming that distributors were now charging three times the normal price for a rose.

"Everyone in the world wants the same flower on the same day," one retailer said.

"The distributors in Holland hike their prices and we have no choice but to pass it on the customer."

Prices varied from €120 for a dozen long length flowers on Dublin's northside to €65 in the Evergreen Florist in Galway city.

The Irish Independent found that the cheapest roses are to be found in the larger supermarkets like Lidl, who are charging €34.99 for a dozen red or white posies, and Dunnes Stores, whose Swords outlet in Dublin is selling them at an even cheaper €30. Tesco are charging €44.99.

Consumers groups have slammed flower distributors and retailers for charging the exorbitant prices for Valentine's roses.

Dermott Jewell of the Consumer's Association of Ireland (CAI) says that the cheaper prices in places like Lidl show that customers are "being fleeced".

"They are the only ones who are providing the challenge and it's good to see it. If some stores can sell them significantly cheaper then it shows that there is a big mark-up being made," he said.

Smaller florists claim that the buying power of multiple outlet giants like Lidl and Dunnes make it impossible for them to compete.

"It's ridiculous," said Geraldine Ball, manager of Abbey Blooms in Dundalk.

"It can only be that they are buying the roses by the billion," she added.

However, the CAI say that, although distribution costs undoubtedly increase in the run up to Valentine's Day, customers are being ripped off when buying roses for their loved one.

"This has been looked at year after year," said Mr Jewell.

"The distributors put it back to the growers and there is a bit of truth in that but, let's be honest, every single person on that chain is trying to make as much money as they can.

"It's seen as an opportunity to extract as much money from the Irish consumer as possible," he added.

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