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Flower sales on Valentine's Day not as rosy as expected

By Mercy Adhiambo | February 16th 2016
Meshak Kinyanjui a florist in Nairobi sorts his flowers.He said busines was low on valentine because it was on a sunday. 15/2 /2016 PHOTO BY GEORGE NJUNGE

Flower traders at the City market in Nairobi are disappointed. Though they had been eagerly waiting for Valentine's Day, they were counting losses by close of business

It is a day that had in previous years given them double profits when lovers thronged their stalls to buy flowers and other gifts. However, this year was different.

Yesterday, they were staring at losses as they discarded wilted flowers that remained unsold a day after Valentine's.

Irene Mweni, who has has been in the business for the last nine years, blamed the poor sales on technology. To her, the invention of smart phones and social media sites is one of the major reasons flowers are not flying off the shelves. "These days, people just send each other those smileys and playful flowers online. They do not see the need to come here and buy real flowers," said Ms Mweni.

John Mwangi, who has a stall at the entrance of the market, said he woke up before dawn on Valentine's Day, hoping customers would start trickling in as early as 6am.

However, he was disappointed when the day dragged on, and only a handful of people wanted to buy flowers. He resorted to making home deliveries when it became clear than not so many people were eager to buy flowers.

Mr Mwangi said the low purchase could have been due to Valentine's Day falling on a Sunday. He added that in his experience, Sunday is a slow day and most people prefer to stay away from the traffic and noise in the central business district.

"It would have been better if Valentine's was on a weekday and most people are in town. On Sundays, most people want to stay at home and rest," said Mwangi.

He spent the better part of yesterday snipping off the flowers from the stalks and using the buds to decorate wreaths for sale. "Instead of wasting them, I am choosing the ones that are still fresh to make wreaths," he said.

David Njoroge, who grows flowers in Kiambu and supplies to traders in different parts of the country, however, had a different story. Unlike the traders, he said Valentine's brought him huge profits. "Many traders made orders as early as January and I supplied them with thousands of flowers," he said. He said there's much potential in flower farming and if small scale farmers could have access to international markets, they would make huge profits.

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