The Covid-19 pandemic and a slow economic recovery is set to make the Day of Love more expensive this year, posing a challenge for florists and gift shops in the city. The same constraints are also affecting lovebirds’ celebration plans.
A recent survey by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce predicts spending of around 2 billion baht on valentine’s Day this year, the lowest in 15 years, with average spending of 1,176 baht per person.
More than half of respondents (51 %) said they expect their celebration will be low-key. The high price of goods, the Covid-19 pandemic, political uncertainty, and its effects have prompted caution in consumer spending. Reduced income, job loss, safety concerns, and fears of job loss are additional factors. About 83 % said they plan to celebrate this special occasion with their loved ones at home.
The survey was conducted on 1,245 respondents nationwide between 2nd and 8th 2022.
Flowers shortages cause price spikes
Roses, one of the most popular Valentine’s Day gifts, could be more expensive this year as they are in shorter supply, causing prices to skyrocket.
Pak Khlong Talat wholesale florist Flower Landowner Pornsomjai Huadhun, 48, says prices for a single rose are likely to double due to the reduced supply.
“The price has increased a lot. It’s difficult for us to manage stock. Only 10 percent of our customers have placed advance orders this year. So putting in a pre-order is a real gamble. None of us want too few or to end up with too many,” she says.
The shortage of flowers has directly impacted the cost, she adds. According to her, a single rose, usually priced at around 20 baht, would go up to 40-45 baht for a locally grown flower and to 80 baht or even more for an imported one from Yunnan province’s Kunming in China.
The Valentine’s Day market is at its worst this year, Pornsomjai notes.
“Last year’s sales were hit by Covid-induced isolation but it was still much better than this time. We bought bunches of roses at much lower prices,” she says, adding the business is slow even though Valentine’s Day is on a Monday, the florist adds.
“Valentine’s Day is always more vibrant on a weekday as florists are busy getting deliveries sent to offices. Things might change this year,” Pornsomjai says.
Where have all the flowers gone?
Pornsomjai notes florists worldwide are facing a flower shortage. The production of flowers has decreased globally, with the pandemic disrupting the supply chain and affecting the อิดพรตำ cultivation, export, and sales of flowers. And many flower-growing areas have been impacted by poor weather conditions.
“Rain is bad for roses. A major storm struck northern Thailand a few weeks ago affecting the flower harvest,” she says.
And there are fewer rose growers in the country this year. Farmers affected by the pandemic no longer have the capital to continue running their businesses, she adds.
According to figures from Mae Rim Agricultural Office, some 41 farmers have registered as rose growers in 2022, compared to 99 growers in 2021.
Chiang Mai’s Mae Rim district is the country’s largest producer of roses, supplying around 952,000 roses according to Bangkok Biz News. That’s around half of last year’s 2 million roses.
Pornsomjai advises those who are looking to buy some flowers for someone special this Valentines’ Day to place an order early and to be flexible when stocks of their preferred floral offering run out and they are simply too expensive.
“There’re many other flowers to choose from like sunflowers, daisies, and gypsy flowers. They are popular among young lovebirds. Buying other flowers rather than the highly sought-after roses might help you save enough cash to splurge on a gift for someone you love, she says.
Business for gift shops also seems to be slow as consumer spending isn’t strong. But Balloon Babe owner JutharatJindapornvarapat expects Sunday and Monday to be the busiest days.
Consumers are tending to tighten their purse strings and becoming less likely to splurge on gifts and special events, she notes.
“The economic slowdown has made consumers more practical. We have customers ordering surprise boxes in smaller sizes as well as smaller bunches of balloons to fit their budget,” she says.
There is also a trend towards customers choosing other gifts that have value for money, over the classic red roses and heart-shaped balloons for this Valentine’s Day, she adds.
“Some opt to order roses created from banknotes for their sweethearts as they last longer than a bouquet and balloons. Colorful balloons are often used as a photo backdrop at a fun party. Young lovebirds love uploading the photos on Facebook and Instagram to share with friends,” Jutharat says.
Covid-19 and the economic slowdown have changed consumer behavior and the way they gift, she adds. Earlier, they made plans and bought gifts prior to the Day of Love. Now, they seem to procrastinate more when it comes to Valentine’s Day gifts.
“We do expect to have sales pouring in on Monday with the last-minute orders,” Jutharat says.
Keeping the tradition alive
However, the slowdown seems not to be dampening the celebrations of love-filled moments on a special day among lovebirds and married couples. And gifting still remains the main component of love and affection.
Some couples make them low-key feel that this allows them to connect with their partners more. Instead of spending big on a bouquet of red roses, teddy bears, and heart-shaped balloons, which serve a purpose for just one day, they are trying to give thoughtful gifts or items that have sentimental value.
“Forking out big bucks on a bouquet isn’t for me this year. I’m on a tight budget. For sure, I will spend the day with my girlfriend. I might give her a box of candies. It’s better than showing up empty-handed on this special day. I’m thinking of buying her a pair of Nike’s Jordan sneakers when it’s her birthday in August. That will surprise and delight her.” says TK, a sophomore in fashion design, 20.
Namtan, 19, a freshman in medical technology, says she has made a Valentine’s Day card for her boyfriend.
“My boyfriend will take me for lunch. I plan to give him a card. I made it myself. I wrote a funny Valentine’s Day message on it too. I will gift him a box of heart-shaped chocolates, a small one. It’s traditional for girls to give chocolate to boys they like.” she says.
Long-term relationships would not survive without gifts, to be sure. Num, 44, plans to spoil his wife, 42, with a dinner for two at a hotel. The couple has always celebrated Valentine’s Day and has exchanged gifts since they started dating.
“I used to gift her a single red rose. It’s not about the money spent or the size of a package. It’s time to show the one you love how much you really care for them.” the father of two says.
By Veena Thoopkrajae with additional report by Sukhumaporn Laiyok