Inflation impacting Nova Scotia floral industry, wedding season

Click to play video: 'Florists struggling to maintain pricing as inflation drives up costs'
Florists struggling to maintain pricing as inflation drives up costs
Wedding season is well underway, which means florists have their hands full. It's a busy time, and one that's become increasingly costly for both floral shops and their clients. Inflation has driven up the price of many flowers, leaving florists with little option but to pass the cost on to consumers. Ashley Field reports. – Jul 13, 2022

Wedding season is in full bloom, which means florists have their hands full filling orders.

At Props Floral Design in Halifax’s north end, co-owner Ashley MacNeill said they are “quite busy,” with approximately 100 weddings booked this summer, which is more than normal.

“There’s a lot of weddings that had been postponed during the pandemic, so there’s a little bit of a catchup, and then everyone else that got engaged during that period of time as well,” she said.

The backlog of weddings and events, coupled with inflation, has caused some flower prices to soar.

“A lot of people have the misconception that baby’s breath is really inexpensive, but it’s actually tripled in price,” said MacNeill. “One, because of inflation and then just the high demand of it as well.”

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She said while she tries to get a lot of flowers from Canadian growers, there are some that simply have to be shipped in from other countries.

“Those have increased in cost as well, just because of freight rates, like, tripling, from what our wholesalers have told us,” she said.

Callia, an online flower shop that ships across Canada and the U.S., has a similar business model, sourcing product from Canadian growers but also places like the United States and South America.

“We’ve seen our costs rise upwards of 40 per cent, which is pretty big,” said Callia account manager Johnny Reynolds.

He said transportation costs have gone up significantly, but that’s only one factor.

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“We’ve seen pricing go up at the farms too, so for example, in Ecuador right now, there’s a variety of political unrest and the supply chain of getting the product out of Ecuador has slowed, so that’s a huge factor contributing to the pricing,” he said.

To recoup some of the costs, Reynolds said Callia has revamped its bouquet sizing and pricing, but adds that customers who locked in prices prior to the changes won’t be affected.

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Impact on weddings

Hannah Forrest, a Bedford, N.S.-based wedding planner, said there’s always been “sticker shock” when it comes to wedding floral quotes, but said prices for some flowers now are higher than she’s ever seen them.

“I know for a lot of my brides getting married this summer, we’ve had to revisit the budget and we’ve had to have specific floral calls with our florist just to talk about how the prices have risen,” said Forrest, who owns Graceful Weddings and Events.

“This is for new brides but also for brides that have pushed from 2020 or 2021, their overall invoice has completely changed, just because prices are very different from when we first started talking about flowers to now.”

She said all of her couples have been very understanding of the situation, with many simply choosing to scale back their original orders, swapping out larger arrangements for smaller ones.

“I see both sides, I see the florists, obviously they’re just trying to make things work, but I also feel bad for the brides who are also trying to keep within a budget and now the florals have just eaten a lot more than what they expected in terms of cost.”

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Farming costs also up

Sarah Macalpine co-owns Two Birds One Stone Farm, a seasonal cut flower farm in Hill’s Harbour, N.S.

Sarah Macalpine, co-owner of Two Birds One Stone Farm in Hill’s Harbour, N.S. Facebook: Two Birds One Stone Farm

She said weddings make up about a third of their business, and while they do source some items at the client’s request, they primarily use the hundreds of different kinds of annuals and perennials, grains, grasses and foliage to form their bouquets and arrangements.

Despite not having to get florals shipped in, the business has still been affected by inflation, with things like irrigation, netting and gas all going up in price.

“It’s expensive to run the tractor and deliver flowers. We’re paying our employees more to make up for inflation as well — and then just regular consumables,” said Macalpine.

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“It has been challenging, but luckily for us, the farm business attracts a very earthy, low-key kind of bride, and we’ve had wonderful clients who have been really understanding.”

The majority of clients, she said, are happy to forego flowers not grown on the farm to avoid a price hike.

“One of those 2020 weddings, their prices adjusted just a little bit, but other than that, we’re just sticking to what we had and just really relying on the garden.”

But for florists who rely on out-of-country flowers, many have been forced to pass at least some of the costs down to consumers, forced to figure out how to fulfill expectations in a new, inflated reality.

“It’s been a bit of a scramble, we’ve had to have conversations with our brides that we’ve met with a year or two years ago that our prices have changed,” said MacNeill.

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