Lovers' bouquets are winging their way from florists all across the city on Valentine's Day today, but romance does not always blossom at the other end.
On their busiest day of the year, flower deliverymen and women are usually met with huge smiles. But Wu Sau-bing, who has been doing the job for the past 12 years, remembers one exception from last year.
Wu arrived at a financial company in Central with an HK$800 bouquet of 20 roses sent by an admirer for a young woman.
"She said, 'The flowers are pretty, but I don't like him.' She gave the bouquet to someone else on the spot," said Wu, who works for Wayfoong Florist International, Prince Edward Road West, Kowloon.
Store manager Leung Lai-ming said just as women like receiving flowers on Valentine's Day, men like sending them.
"Some young men will try to muscle in and send a girl flowers despite knowing they haven't got a chance," said Leung, whose wife also works at the shop.
He has also seen men ordering several bouquets on Valentine's Day. Admittedly some are addressed to wives, sisters and mothers, but others appear to have multiple relationships. Fortunately for them, the florist's job seems to have a level of discretion akin to priest or lawyer.
"We sometimes write cards for our customers, but we won't tell anyone what was written, not even colleagues," said Leung.
While business on Valentine's Day can be up on normal days by as much as 20 times, there are usually no large-scale orders - like the 999 roses Leung prepared for a birthday last year, his largest single order so far.
The roses cost the buyer some HK$20,000 and needed two people to deliver them.
Meanwhile, a survey released yesterday suggested that while 14 per cent of women rate flowers as their number one gift for Valentine's Day, 41 per cent said they preferred cards or gifts that had been made by their admirer, and 32 per cent would opt for clothes, handbags, watches or other accessories.
The figures come from the Caritas Family Crisis Support Centre, which last month interviewed 600 people aged between 18 and 40 who were in a relationship but unmarried.
Half of them said they would spend HK$10,000 or more as a couple on Valentine's Day. And around 70 per cent of respondents said they spent more on February 14 than on birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas.