For some Carson City retailers, Valentine’s Day is big (and busy) business | nnbusinessview.com

For some Carson City retailers, Valentine’s Day is big (and busy) business

Rob Sabo
Special to NNBW

Tom Jones owner of Carson City Florist creates a Valentine's Day bouquet.

From flower shops to restaurants to retailers, the day honoring St. Valentine provides a big boost to the bottom line for businesses throughout the region.

Tom Jones, owner of Carson City Florist, says if it wasn't for Valentine's Day the sweltering summer months would be pretty bleak. However, Valentine's Day isn't even the biggest day of the year for flower sales — that honor belongs to Mother's Day. The reason is simple, Jones says — everyone has a mother, but not everyone has a lover.

The two days account for about 25 percent of annual revenue for Carson City Florist. The flower shop ramps up staffing from seven to 15 to prepare for the Valentine's Day crush. Added help includes additional drivers, counter help and floral designers.

"It is definitely our Black Friday," Jones says. "We are really excited, and we have a ton of flowers coming in."

Most flowers weren't delivered until Friday to ensure peak freshness on Valentine's Day — which falls on Wednesday this year. That's a good thing, the Society for American Florists reports, since Wednesday is historically the strongest day of the week for Valentine's Day flower orders.

Carson City Florist expects to have about 2,250 roses, including 1,500 long-stem red roses, shipped from wholesale growers. That number doesn't take into consideration the large number of carnations, lilies and other flowers arriving daily.

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"We will have a large, large sum of flowers coming into our business," Jones says.

Most flowers arrive from farms packed in a Procona system, which means "from producer to consumer in aqua." Flowers are continuously hydrated and ventilated so they remain fresher longer. Flowers also are rehydrated once they arrive at flower shops to further extend their longevity.

Bobbie Rhyne, designer for Flower Bucket Florist in Carson City, says the shop does about 15 percent of its annual revenue on Valentine's Day. Orders have been pouring in for weeks, she adds. Like many flower shops, Flower Bucket is a teleflorist — consumers can view arrangements and place their orders online.

The most popular order, not surprisingly, is for a dozen red roses. Rhyne estimates she'll arrange more than 100 of the classic bouquets, whose symbolic message means the sender declares their love for the receiver for all 12 months of the year.

Flower Bucket Florist also ramps up staffing in the weeks prior to Valentine's Day, bringing on an additional four to six drivers, as well as staff to help inside the store. Although pre-orders began in January, Rhyne says walk-in customers also constitute a large portion of the day's total sales.

"If someone comes in and buys something off shelf, we are stocked up," she says. "There's always a line out the door, and the phone is ringing off the hook. We get a little crazy here, and there is a lot of running around."

Nationwide, Valentine's Day spending is huge. The National Retail Federation reports consumer spending on Valentine's Day topped $18.2 billion in 2017 — and that figure is predicted to jump to $19.6 billion in 2018 in light of a healthy national economy. Average per-person spending is expected to be $143.

Phil Rist, vice president of strategy for Prosper Insights & Analytics, the firm that conducts the annual Valentine's Day survey for the National Retail Federation, says Valentine's is a day where people not only spoil loved ones but also themselves.

"Shoppers should look for deals on everything from candy to date-night dinner packages in the coming days, leaving plenty of options for those looking to make the occasion truly special," Rist says.

The Society for American Florists says Valentine's Day is actually the second-biggest day for U.S. floral retailers behind Mother's Day. Red roses account for about 67 percent of all Valentine's Day flower sales, followed by mixed flowers and floral arrangements.

Consumers on average paid $85 for a dozen long-stemmed arranged roses and about $66 for a non-arranged dozen, the SAF reports. More than half of all orders are placed before Valentine's Day, and about 38 percent of transactions take place on the day itself.

The day is a festive event for Café at Adele's. Owner Charlie Abowd puts together a special menu for the evening that combines some of the most popular dishes of the year, along with a few surprise offerings.

"It is a condensed special menu for Valentine's," Abowd says.

Adele's was booked solid for Valentine's Day reservations by mid-January. The restaurant expects to accommodate as many as 180 guests between dining hours of 5 and 9:30 p.m. Abowd limits the number of reservations in order to better accommodate guests.

"It is a big day for us, but it is a very special day for the people who are going out," he says. "We want to have enough time to make sure everything is perfect and made just the way the customers' order it."

Adele's doesn't rely on Valentine's Day the way some small businesses do — it typically does brisk business, especially when the Legislature is in session. Abowd says the legislative session is like having a four-month long convention in town. However, this year's Valentine's Day dining event will be a bit more important to Adele's bottom line since there aren't many winter travelers coming through town due to the puny snowpack, Abowd says.

"It will be a big shot," he says.

Valentine's Day brings a crush of customers to many stores – retailers can see the volume of foot traffic in their stores and shops double or even triple. Business owners and staff need to be on their best game that day, Abowd says.

"The most important thing to us in the industry is that we recognize that it is a very special day and people are extending their budgets to celebrate this day with their loved ones," he says. "It is our responsibility to make sure we meet or exceed their expectations."

For the love of money

Average expected consumer spending, Valentine’s Day 2018

Spouse/significant other:

$89 ($12.1 billion)

Family members:

$25.30 ($3.5 billion)

Teachers/classmates:

$7.26 ($991 million)

Pets:

$5.50 ($751 million)

Co-workers:

$4.80 ($654 million)

What they’re buying

Jewelry:

$4.7 billion

Dining/going out:

$3.7 billion

Flowers:

$2 billion

Clothing:

$1.9 billion

Chocolates/candy:

$1.8 billion

Gift cards:

$1.5 billion

Greeting cards:

$894 million

Source: National Retail Federation