by Phil Yacuboski

Lovers will spend about $19.6 billion on Valentine's Day this year, according to statistics from the National Retail Federation. And between cards, candy flowers, dinner and perhaps a nice gift, the average consumer expects to cash in on those wanting to make Valentine's Day extra lovely.

"It's one the busiest holidays for us," said Mari Jane Stankowski, partner, South Side Floral in Scranton. She said while Valentine's Day is a busy holiday, Mother's Day is first for her floral shop.

Stankowski said they are third-generation owners and they've seen ‘a lot' when it comes to trends and how to prepare for the big holidays throughout the year.

"We do special arrangements and we have to make sure we have everything in stock for those arrangements."

Stankowski said to plan, they examine last year's numbers and then begin purchasing to see what the forecast would be for this year.

"The majority of roses come from South America, even Africa," she said, which typically go up in price around the holidays. "Because it's such a big romantic holiday, the growers will sometimes hold back some stock so they have a large supply and then they charge more."

She said she'll charge about $75 for one dozen of roses.

"It's our busiest winter holiday for us before the spring," said Jerry Longo, owner, Jerry's for All Seasons in Dunmore.

He said about 85-90% of those buying flowers for Valentine's Day want roses.

"They come from Ecuador and they are flown in from Miami, so we will have plenty," he said.

Longo said they will hire extra staff and have extra delivery trucks to handle the extra demand.

"Falling on a weekday, it's good for us," he said. "Most men will send it to the business where she works, so we have to get it there by 3 p.m. We've been doing this for 30 years, so we know what we are doing."

"The wire services, like TeleFlora, 1-800-FLOWERS, and FTD, are offering a discount if you have them delivered before Valentine's Day," she said. "And some people are opting for that."

She said because Valentine's Day 2020 falls on a Friday, it's ‘iffy.'

"A lot of people like to send flowers to work to their sweetheart," she said. "If it falls on a weekend, then they aren't at work or they might go away for the weekend, so we'll see how this year goes."

"We are looking forward to a good holiday," said Longo.

The National Retail Federation said men between the ages of 35-44 are the biggest spenders on the holiday. A study found that while department stores are popular destinations for those shopping for gifts, going to the movies is also a popular item in addition to dinner and other small gifts.

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