There may be plenty of flowers for Mother’s Day, but the selection may be smaller and bouquets may cost more. Like many things, the floral industry has reportedly taken a hit from the coronavirus (COVID-19).
CBS News reports that the virus has adversely affected the floral supply chain. Some of the most popular flowers in the U.S. are grown and harvested in South America, where COVID-19 is currently raging.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Columbia, a major flower-growing region, is dealing with national strikes. The flowers that finally make it to U.S. ports are encountering delays before they are loaded into trucks, which are reportedly in short supply. The result has been a delay in retail outlets obtaining some popular flowers, such as cut hyacinths and other imported flowers.
Industry experts say some of the problems go back almost a year to when the pandemic shut down economies around the world. It hit growers especially hard since their product is perishable and demand dried up almost overnight. Many had to curtail operations or shut down completely.
"It's a story that goes back to the beginning of the pandemic," Seth Goldman, CEO of UrbanStems, told CBS News.
Consumers still want flowers
Now that the virus appears to be retreating in the U.S. and millions of Americans have been vaccinated, demand for flowers for Mother’s Day is as strong as ever. The Society of American Florists (SAF) estimates that nearly 70% of U.S. shoppers will purchase flowers as part of a Mother’s Day gift.
An SAF survey of members found concerns about supply but also optimism for significant growth over Mother's Day in 2020, which occurred during the initial surge of the pandemic. Survey respondents also said they would counter supply constraints by designing unique and unusual arrangements for the holiday.
“It’s time to capitalize on our talent and creativity as opposed to cookie-cutter designing so that we can show that we still can create even in a shortage,” one respondent wrote.
Despite the shortage, consumers will still find plenty of flowers for Mom this year. But industry sources suggest that consumers should be prepared to accept substitutes and to pay more for them.
Florists are quick to point out that the higher costs really aren’t for the flowers but rather the transportations costs, which have risen an estimated 10% to 15% over the last couple of months.