Photo (cc) by Charles Sporn
More than a third of Americans were expected to buy flowers for Valentine’s Day last year, said industry group National Retail Federation. You can bet many people will do so again this year.
The average person shelled out an estimated $126 last year for Valentine’s Day gifts, the retail industry group said. A staggering $17.6 billion was what was expected to be spent on the holiday in 2012. Flowers are a large part of that spending, with a dozen long-stem roses clocking in at around $79.99 for the flowers and a vase, according to Bankrate.com.
If you’re among those looking to get flowers for that special someone this Valentine’s Day, it helps to know where to get the best flowers for the best price. Check out this video by Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson on where to look for the best deals, then read on for more tips.
If you’re planning to buy flowers this Valentine’s Day, here are seven tips to keep in mind to get the most for your money.
1. Check out big-box retailers and warehouse stores
Big-box retailers and warehouse stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, and Produce Junction purchase flowers in bulk and pass on the savings to the customer.
In a price survey of street vendors, supermarkets, warehouse clubs and florists, the nonprofit consumer group Consumers’ Checkbook found prices at supermarkets and warehouse clubs averaged about 47 percent less than traditional florists.
Before picking up a bouquet at one of these stores, ask if the flowers were refrigerated the entire trip from the grower to the store. If they weren’t, they may not last as long.
2. Buying from a supermarket
Grocery stores are usually a little more expensive than warehouse stores, but you can still score a good deal on flowers.
Be sure to ask the same question about refrigeration and inspect each flower. You want to see tight buds – those will open and stay fresh for days, says Christine Boldt, executive vice president of the Association of Florial Importers of Florida.
3. Buying online
OK, we all know the easiest way to buy something is to click on a website. But when it comes to buying flowers, the easy way may not always be the best way.
The flowers may be shipped on unrefrigerated trucks at any point during their trip to your loved one. An online site also could tack on fees that could drive the price for that bouquet up.
4. Using a local florist
Stopping in to the local flower shop is one way of getting the highest-quality flowers – but unfortunately at high prices, too.
However, florists may be able to work with you on the bouquet’s price, so don’t be shy about trying to negotiate. If you’re on a budget, the local flower shop can also work with you to create a bouquet within your price range.
Be sure to inspect the flowers and get tips for caring for them.
5. Just say no to roadside stands
It may be convenient to stop by the guy selling flowers, but those blooms are often of lower quality and haven’t been well cared for – telltale signs they might not last long.
6. Use coupons
Before heading out to buy flowers for your sweetie, try looking on coupon sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, and Amazon.com.
You can score some great discounts on flowers right now. For example, the coupon site Retail Me Not has vouchers for up to 40 percent off if you order early for Valentine’s Day from 1800Flowers.com.
If you choose to order flowers online, pick a website that passes the sale on to a local florist and then follow up with the local florist if possible to make sure your special Valentine will be getting what you ordered.
If there is a problem with an online order, speak up and ask for a replacement.
7. Watch out for scams
The Federal Trade Commission warned about a telemarketing scam pretending to be a local florist.
These scammers put ads in local phone directories and when you call the number, you’re transferred to the telemarketing phone bank that takes your order and forwards it to a real florist, said Bankrate.com.
Trouble is, you don’t find out about it until you get the bill and it’s more than you expected with hidden fees tacked on. Worse yet, the flowers might not be what you ordered or don’t arrive at all.
The FTC recommends using a florist you can check up on and talk with about the order instead of randomly picking a business listing.
Flowers can be a beautiful way to say “I love you” on Valentine’s Day. Your gift will seem even sweeter knowing you got the best deal and saved money at the same time.