Valentine's Day flowers more expensive because of cold weather
It's that day of the year again - the day when love and romance fills the air and the cash registers hum at restaurants and florists.
But the cold weather has made this year's Valentine's Day less than heart-warming for the city's flower sellers.
Jenny Yau, of Fai Kee Flowers in Prince Edward, said the past week has been so stressful for her that she "could not even sleep".
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Cold weather and heavy snow across Kunming , Yunnan province - one of Asia's top flower exporters - has wiped out more than half of its production.
And it doesn't help that this year's celebration of love happens to coincide with the Yuen Siu Festival - the 15th day of the first month of the lunar year, which is also known as Chinese Valentine's Day.
"We were very nervous about ensuring that we'd have enough stock to meet all the orders," said Yau. "I couldn't sleep for the whole week".
Belinda Ko Yin-ping, marketing manager of local florist chain Brighten Floriculture, said wholesale flower prices were up more than 20 per cent this year, with retail prices up by 5 to 10 per cent.
The chain has been able to mitigate those increases by locking in prices with suppliers months in advance.
"The supply of flowers this year is very volatile," Ko said. "The heavy snow in Japan last weekend actually produced a ripple effect and affected international air freight all over … we were extremely worried."
Unprepared boyfriends shopping for flowers today will pay a hefty price for a decent bouquet. When a Post reporter visited Mong Kok's Flower Market Road on Wednesday, a dozen roses fully wrapped in bouquets were priced between HK$900 to HK$1,400, with delivery extra.
Ko said the price of roses from China were this year almost as expensive as premium roses imported from Ecuador. Popular alternatives included calla lilies, tulips, hydrangeas and even chrysanthemums.
Some ingenious boyfriends the Post spoke to, however, had come up with cost-saving plans.
Bee Ho, an IT technician combing the market for flowers on Wednesday, said he would keep his flower budget under HK$1,000 and take his girlfriend to a country park barbeque area for a hotpot dinner.
"I think it's pretty romantic and it's better than having to pay the exorbitant prices for set meals at some restaurants," he said.
Patrick Yu, who works in retail, said he would do the whole "dinner and a movie thing" but keep his flower costs down by buying 11 roses - which stands for "forever together" in Chinese - and then cutting them and wrapping them himself.
And for those who have cash to spare, there's always the upmarket option. Single roses will be selling for HK$150 at Agnes B Fleuriste stores around town, while a 30-rose bouquet will cost HK$2,180.