A Blossom for the Tally Economy

Even with the financial instability many Americans face, the tradition of gift-buying for holidays has not wavered much. This year’s Valentine’s Day is expected to be no different.

Many local florists and gift shops have reaped the benefits of holiday spending. Additionally, these businesses also experience the financial effects of slow everyday spending.

Janet Davis, owner of Hilly Fields Florists & Gifts in Tallahassee, says the economy has had a negative effect on her gift shop, which has been open for 18 Valentine’s Days. She said that this year may be better, but she is uncertain.

“Sales are about 25 percent less than four years ago when the economy wasn’t as bad,” she said of the family-owned business. “This year [sale predictions] are trending a little better.”

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2011 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, “the average person will shell out $116.21,” in valentine-related expenses.

 Last year, individual spending was predicted at $103; 11 percent less than this year.

The survey of nearly 9,000 people, conducted by BIGresearch, estimated this year’s total spending to reach $15.7 billion. Popular gifts to get a significant other include bouquets of flowers, candy, perfume/cologne and jewelry.

According to NRF’s poll results, 36.6 percent of people will purchase gifts at discount stores and 30.5 percent will buy from department stores. After specialty stores and online shopping, 16.8 percent said they would order from a local florist.

England’s Florist & Gift Shop offers gift baskets and international ordering and has been serving Tallahassee for 60 years.

Cashier and bookkeeper Tiffany Cox said the shop is familiar with high Valentine retail, especially because of the holiday’s popularity.

“Valentine’s hasn’t really been affected,” said Cox.

“People still want to buy on Valentine’s Day…it’s a commercial holiday.”

Cox said the changes may be obvious in statistics rather than sales.

Wendy Halleck, owner of Quarter Moon Imports, a local gift shop, said that consumers have cut back on regular gift buying, but that her business has benefitted from holiday spending.

“The economy effects more everyday shopping but people still like to buy for the holidays,” said Halleck.

“People are still interested in shopping locally owned. I think that helps the small business. People still want to find reasonable prices.”

Tyrone Stevenson has been married for six years. He says a lot goes into Valentine’s Day gift buying but thinks, “it should be the thought that counts.”

“I think for some people it might depend on the funds but for others it may depend on their situation with their significant other,” said Stevenson.

“It could be a purse but it’s still a gift.”

While some local gift shops might see increased business during the celebration of love, they also have to spend more money in preparation. With some shops providing delivery services, additional drivers are hired to compensate.

Both England’s and Hilly Field’s Florist & Gifts have hired extra delivery drivers and in-store employees. The businesses owners are “lucky” to be small family-owned businesses though.

“There are eight people in the shop and we hire four extra drivers,” said Cox.

“We work with a lot of family who volunteer. We try not to have our extra hires reflect on income.”

Davis said she orders bulk flowers by the third week in January to get them at a better price.

 Also, family support eases a busy holiday at the shop.

Some businesses are not as family oriented and have to creatively welcome customers.

This year Halleck held a “happy hour” in order to expose customers to the scented candles, perfumes and more her shop has to offer.

“We want to let customers know what we have,” said Halleck.

“Sales representatives will be able to assist them in whatever they are interested in.”