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Wondering why your Mother's Day bouquet might be more expensive? Blame a flower shortage

Sarah Freishtat, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Business News

A shortage of flowers could have some Mother’s Day gift-givers scrambling for holiday bouquets.

Uncertainty during the early days of the pandemic and lingering supply chain issues have left some varieties of flowers in short supply and raised prices on others, florists said. That could have buyers paying more for their Mother’s Day bouquets or leave them unable to find specific varieties for holiday or wedding arrangements.

At Kennicott Brothers, a wholesaling business in Chicago, roses and carnations have become more expensive. Baby blue eucalyptus has been in short supply recently, and the company has at various times had trouble stocking varieties of white garden roses, burgundy and cafe au lait dahlias, and a type of rose known as quicksand, which is popular for weddings, Chairman Red Kennicott said.

Demand for flowers has been 10% to 20% higher during the pandemic as buyers look for ways to express emotion when other methods are limited, especially on holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, he said.

The supply chain issues are similar to those experienced across all industries since the COVID-19 pandemic began 14 months ago, as businesses dealt with temporary shutdowns and sick employees.

But there are also other factors when the product is a living thing: Growers had nowhere to ship flowers early in the pandemic. Some went out of business and others chose to plant more conservatively, meaning fewer flowers months later.

 

“Decisions that were made during the height of the pandemic are now coming home to roost this Mother’s Day,” said Seth Goldman, CEO of UrbanStems, a national plant and flower delivery company.

Florists such as Donnalear Robinson, owner of Hyde Park Florist, have felt the shortages and higher prices. She normally sells carnations, a popular flower for Mother’s Day, for $2 a stem, but because of the higher prices she is paying, she is charging $3.50 or $4, she said.

She is charging $9 more for a dozen roses with a vase. Orchids have been hard to come by and prices have gone up, and Friday morning she was waiting to hear back from a supplier about whether she would be able to get tulips in stock.

She has worked through other uncertain times, but none have been like this, she said.

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