By Ben Garcia

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and many flower shops in Kuwait have displayed a variety of fresh flowers to attract customers. The prices of various types of flowers usually jump during the Valentine season by over 50 percent, a florist told Kuwait Times. Roses are sold for KD 2 compared to KD 1 during regular days. Prices go higher if the bouquet is accompanied by ornamentations and vases or even chocolates and teddy bears. The price of a bouquet of flowers can reach up to KD 300.

Although the flower business has been affected by the global coronavirus pandemic, those who innovated managed to survive, a female Kuwaiti flower shop owner told Kuwait Times. “Prior to the pandemic, we were already online. We survived despite being closed for around a month in March and April last year. Our business has been great so far,” said the florist, who preferred to remain anonymous.

“We are getting business from those who failed to innovate and go online. Prior to the COVID pandemic, we made KD 800 per day in sales, but when the pandemic struck, sales on our online platform suddenly increased. Our daily sales are now at KD 1,300 to 1,500,” she revealed. “Many of our customers are Kuwaiti. The reason why my business is growing and we are surviving is because if somebody is sick in the family, people give flowers so they feel better.”

Flowers are also given when celebrating graduations, births, Valentine’s Day or thanking someone for doing a great job or favor. “We have several hotel customers and we delivered flowers to them prior to the pandemic. Those orders were all cancelled due to the closure of hotels. But many Kuwaiti students returned from abroad and are spending money at various stores, including flower shops, so our business is benefiting. Also, our shop is in a Kuwaiti residential area, so we are in the right place at the right time,” she added.

But everything is not so rosy for some other flower shops amid the pandemic. Liza, a florist at a small flower shop in Hawally, said they have incurred huge losses since reopening in late August last year. “My boss wanted to close down the shop for good after the prolonged closure (when Kuwait imposed lockdowns and curfews), but maybe because he was thinking about me as the shop’s lone worker who will be out of a job, he continued,” she said.

“The reality is sales are down by 50 percent, maybe because we only wait for customers to show up and don’t utilize online services or delivery. I told my boss to open an online delivery service, but he hasn’t done so till now. If we had online sales or delivery perhaps, the story would have been different. But I think this was not done because of budget constraints,” Liza told Kuwait Times.

“Before COVID, I used to order fresh flowers from various suppliers in Kuwait every day. Now I order only once a week. We have a huge contract with some hotels, but the majority of hotels are closed, so we don’t have bulk orders anymore,” she said.

Flowers sold in Kuwait are sourced from all around the world, as Kuwait has a harsh climate. A few Kuwaiti farmers grow flowers in greenhouses, but it is a very costly affair. Flowers are mostly imported from the Netherlands, but also from Columbia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, India and Peru, among others. There are around five wholesale suppliers of fresh flowers in Kuwait, who directly import flowers from various sources. Prices vary depending on class and where the flowers come from.