Britain’s florists are preparing for one of the busiest times of year. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, a staggering £262 million is spent on flowers for loved ones.
It’s important to look for the perfect gift for the big day and saying it with flowers is something that 75% of British men will be doing on 14th February.
Symbolising love, romance and passion, red roses are the most popular Valentine’s flower – around 43% of the flowers sold are red roses, usually in bunches of 12 cut stems.
This means that 57% of customers are looking for something different – other Valentine’s Day contenders include anemones, camellia, freesia, lilies, daisies, tulips and carnations, to name but a few.
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The cut flower industry in the UK is worth around £2 billion annually. Special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Christmas are the main times when thousands of orders are guaranteed.
For the florists vying for supremacy, it’s a case of buying in additional items that can complement the flowers. This makes it convenient for customers to buy the perfect flowers and also another gift, all under one roof – such as a decorative vase, a box of chocolates, a teddy or a silk heart.
High-street florists have diversified their range of products to keep pace with the times and fend off stiff competition from online retailers.
History of floristry
The earliest records of flower-arranging as an art date back to the Ancient Egyptians in 2,500 BC. They would place cut flowers in vases and create highly stylised arrangements as table decorations and for occasions such as processions.
Illustrations of intricate Ancient Egyptian flower arrangements have been found painted on walls and carved in stone.
During the Ancient Greek period, dating from 600 BC to 150 BC, floristry provided decorations for the home and even for clothing, with herbs added to further enhance the displays.
Floristry became popular in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, the delicate arrangements contrasting with the symmetrical Baroque architecture of France, which was the first European country to embrace floral exhibits from around 1610.
In the United States, during the colonial era, flowers and herbs were first grown for medicinal purposes and floral decorations in the home were simple. In the UK, floral arrangements grew in popularity during the Victorian era, when they became more lavish.
Roses became popular, as did dahlias, tulips, lilies and fuchsias. This was the first era when floristry began to develop as an industry and particular styles of flower arranging started to take shape.
Today, florists offer many services and they can even make sure your Valentine’s gift is personalised for that special someone. Retailers will use flowers to promote their window displays, especially near Valentine’s day.
Floral displays create a huge visual appeal and those with stunning window displays, close to a main shopping area, will be assured of brisk business.
Many new floristry businesses begin on a market stall, or in small premises close to a main transport link, such as a busy commuter line, or a bus station. This gives them a steady flow of passing trade and it means they can build up their business and income over time, before investing in larger premises.
Shift to “buy British”
This Valentine’s Day, an estimated 90% of the cut flowers will be imported from overseas, according to surveys. This is because the winter’s weather in the UK isn’t conducive to producing the volume of flowers that will be required to cope with the demand.
However, there’s a growing trend among British florists to buy more local blooms. Organisations such as The British Flower Collective and Flowers From the Farm are helping to coordinate the efforts to buy British.
They say the advantage is that local flowers stay fresher for longer, as the transportation time is reduced. International flowers can take more than a week to arrive after being cut.
Popular Valentine’s flowers
The average price of a bunch of 12 red roses this Valentine’s Day will be around £32 and an additional 250 million extra roses will be grown just for the special day.
Of the roses bought by men for their loved one, 43% will be red. Other colours are also popular, with pink roses symbolising grace, yellow roses meaning friendship and white roses suggesting beauty and innocence.
Red tulips represent true love, while pink carnations are sent to someone you’ll never forget, and lavender signifies devotion.
Research has shown that a massive 95% of customers will be more likely to go into a shop if it has an attractive exterior, so it’s important that florists get their Valentine’s window display on point. If the exterior looks uninviting, 52% of customers say they would be less likely to cross the threshold.
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