Mother's Day flower shortage boosts prices ahead of holiday

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If you haven’t bought your mom flowers yet for Mother’s Day, don’t be surprised when you see the prices.

Florists across the country have been warning about a shortage of flowers ahead of the holiday, which is the biggest annual floral event behind Valentine’s Day, Christmas and Hanukkah, according to the Society of American Florists. 

But this year, several factors have led to a shortage. The COVID-19 pandemic slowed the global flower market last year. The pandemic and other problems have also slowed worldwide shipping. And growers in parts of South America that export flowers to the U.S. have dealt with unusually cold weather. Meanwhile, the U.S. is historically the top importer of cut flowers.

Florists across the country have been warning about a shortage of flowers ahead of Mother’s Day. (iStock)

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In Milwaukee, Karen Gruettner at Chet and Leona’s Floral Ship told FOX 6 that sought-after flowers like orchids and gardenias were simply not available.

"There is a worldwide shortage of flowers right now," she said.

The reduced supply means flower prices are up at many retailers amid the increased holiday demand. For example, the average advertised retail price for bunched tulips this past week was about 8% higher than it was a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And the price was up nearly 26% from a week earlier. 

"I have been here 15 seasons and I don’t remember inventory this tight ever," Candace Wickstrom, a manager at City Floral Garden Center in Denver, told FOX 31. "It is unprecedented times and what most garden centers are looking at is, when we place orders sometimes it’s only half of the orders that show up."

Yad Arif hands a bouquet to a customer at Santos Farm in Kent, Washington, U.S. March 22, 2020. (REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson)

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Even with higher prices, many Americans appear to have been willing to pay. The National Retail Federation predicted average Mother’s Day gift spending would increase by $15.48 to $220.48 this year, totaling $28.1 billion nationally on celebrations for the holiday.

The situation may be good news for many local growers. In Kentucky, In Bloom Flower Farm owner Carly Reed told FOX 56 that her farm and others nearby were seeing an uptick in business as a result of the shortage, selling locally to individuals and retailers. 

"It’s a lot of retail, so, if a grower mostly sold to florists before, now they’re suddenly getting a lot of retail customers that they didn’t have," Reed said.

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