Fes­ti­val tak­ing bloom off Valen­tine flower sales

China Daily - - CHINA - By LI YINGQING and YANG WANLI in Kun­ming Con­tact the writ­ers at yang­wanli@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The ap­proach of Valen­tine’s Day has wit­nessed a de­cline of fresh flower sales, which traders at­trib­uted to the weather and its prox­im­ity this year to the Spring Fes­ti­val.

Lu Yang, a fresh flower trader, said most flow­ers are bought in big cities, which many peo­ple are leav­ing to head home for the fes­ti­val.

“Or­ders for Valen­tine’s Day have dropped dra­mat­i­cally,” Lu said.

The most im­por­tant fes­ti­val to Chi­nese, Spring Fes­ti­val usu­ally falls in Jan­uary or early Fe­bru­ary. This year, Spring Fes­ti­val Eve falls on Thurs­day, one day af­ter Valen­tine’s Day.

Lu’s com­pany in Kun­ming pro­vides fresh flow­ers to dozens of flower stores in He­fei, An­hui prov­ince. Or­ders are usu­ally fixed one week be­fore Valen­tine’s Day.

She said this year’s or­der vol­ume is only half of last year’s.

At Kun­ming In­ter­na­tional Flora Auc­tion Trade Cen­ter, the coun­try’s only and Asia’s sec­ond-largest flower auc­tion cen­ter, hun­dreds of pur­chasers in­clud­ing Lu usu­ally face fierce com­pe­ti­tion for flow­ers.

Un­like the full auc­tion cen­ter last year, Lu said this year’s pre-Valen­tine’s Day auc­tion saw many empty seats.

But the clash of the two hol­i­days hasn’t in­flu­enced on­line traders much.

Flower seller Xiao Yong, most of whose clients are on­line flower traders in North China, said the or­ders for Valen­tine’s Day have re­mained sta­ble com­pared to pre­vi­ous years.

Prices, how­ever, have soared dra­mat­i­cally.

Ac­cord­ing to Zhang Li, man­ager of the auc­tion cen­ter, the av­er­age price of roses reached 2.6 yuan (41 cents) each dur­ing the week be­fore Feb 14, nearly 60 to 70 per­cent higher than the same pe­riod last year.

A top qual­ity rose named “Maria” was bid for at 12.35 yuan on Mon­day, a record high in the past seven days.

As China’s largest flower pro­duc­tion area, Yun­nan ex­pe­ri­enced a cold wave in De­cem­ber.

“It was a cru­cial time for flow­ers to grow the buds but the cold wave cut pro­duc­tion by nearly 30 per­cent,” Zhang said.

About 80 per­cent of the cen­ter’s sales are out­side of Yun­nan. Over­seas ex­ports make up 15 per­cent, mainly to Ja­pan, Aus­tralia, Thai­land and Rus­sia.

Xu Qian­fei, a seller tar­get­ing mar­kets in Thai­land, Sin­ga­pore and Hong Kong, said the or­ders in those re­gions are not in­flu­enced by the over­lap­ping two hol­i­days.

In Flower World, the largest in­di­vid­ual flower trade mar­ket in Kun­ming, more than 6.5 bil­lion flow­ers were traded last year, an in­crease of nearly 8 per­cent over 2016.

“We’ve seen more in­di­vid­ual pur­chasers in re­cent years, thanks to peo­ple’s in­creas­ing in­comes. More peo­ple spend money on fresh flow­ers for their home. Also, many are in­ter­ested in flower ar­rang­ing,” said Song Rong, an of­fi­cial with the mar­ket’s pub­lic­ity depart­ment.

LIN YIGUANG / XIN­HUA

Peo­ple se­lect flow­ers at a flower mar­ket in Kun­ming, Yun­nan prov­ince. This year wit­nessed a de­cline of fresh flow­ers trade vol­ume but a higher price.

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