Valentine's Day timing spikes demand for flowers

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COLUMBIA - This Valentine's Day is the first to land on a weekday since 2013, forcing some local florists to work overtime. 

"If it was Friday, instead of getting her flowers, he might take her to dinner, or to a bed and breakfast or somewhere cool for the weekend," said Ruth LaHue, owner and founder of My Secret Garden, a flower shop on Broadway. 

"If it's Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday it's a bit far away from the weekend, so he wants to impress her at work."  

The National Retail Federation expects consumers to spend roughly $2 billion on flowers nation-wide this year. This is an increase from $1.9 billion in 2016, when Valentine's day was on a Sunday. 

LaHue and her co-workers spent their Monday night at the shop preparing, working throughout the night to prepare more orders.  LaHue explained the staff has not left the shop before midnight for the last 11 days. 

Danielle Johnson, a floral designer at Hy-Vee on Nifong Boulevard, has been a florist since 2013 but is new to the weekday rush phenomenon.

"I've been standing in the same spot since about 8 o'clock this morning," she said.

Johnson explained the date of Valentine's day does add stress to the job, but Hy-Vee takes employees from other departments to help the florists handle the logistics like phone calls and materials.  

"We have taken over the dairy cooler," laughed Johnson. She said Hy-Vee has rented out cooler storage space for dairy products and is using the dairy cooler as a place to keep flowers in order to handle the increase in demand. 

Both My Secret Garden and the Hy-Vee floral designers will take last minute orders on Valentine's Day. 

"Valentine's Day is traditionally a last minute holiday. More people have ordered their Valentine's flowers today than ordered in the entire last month leading up to today," LaHue said on Monday.  

"People will be running in our door right at close (on Tuesday) and wanting to get flowers then."

Despite the increase in flower demand, the National Retail Federation expects American Valentine's day expenditures to only reach $18.2 billion, well short of the $19.7 billion spent last year.