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Flower Sales Wilting Despite Prime Graduation Season

Posted February. 13, 2009 03:43,   


“Enjoying the benefits of graduation season? It’s long over now.”

“People just ask and only a few buy flowers due to the economic slump,” said a woman selling flowers in front of the gate of Chosun University Girls` Middle School in Gwangju, which held a graduation ceremony Wednesday.

Early spring is a particularly busy time for the flower market because of a slew of graduation and entrance ceremonies. Flower merchants enjoy high sales at this time of year because flowers are especially symbolic at specific events and ceremonies. The bleak economic climate, however, has made flowers more difficult to find at ceremonies.

Flower sellers in front of Kyunggi Girls` High School in Seoul even when the graduation ceremony was almost over, were apparently waiting for late customers.

On revenue earned that day, a merchant held out her hand to show three 10,000-won bills. “I sold just three (bundle of flowers) yesterday and today,” she said.

“I need to earn at least 15,000 won (10.68 U.S. dollars) for a bundle, but nobody bought one even after I lowered the price to 10,000 won (7.11 dollars). I have to throw them away if I don’t sell them today.”

Far cheaper artificial flowers are more easily found in and around schools where graduation ceremonies are being held. A woman also brought a bunch of such flowers for her son, who graduated from Samsung High School in Seoul’s Gwanak ward Wednesday.

“Since there are a number of graduation ceremonies I should attend including one for my relatives’ children, I feel burdened in having to buy flowers for every ceremony. So I’ve decided to prepare an artificial one for all the ceremonies,” she said.

Though demand is declining due to depressed demand, the prices of flowers are rising because of plummeting output. Many flower farms have stopped growing them due to higher prices for heating oil.

Prices in graduation season usually double, with 10 roses going for 20,000 won (14.23 dollars) and a bunch of common gypsophila traded at 15,000 won (10.68 dollars).

According to the Yangjae Flower Market Center in southern Seoul, the largest flower wholesale market in Korea, daily sales this year fell to 70 percent of last year’s.

One center source said, “Costs have soared due to rising oil prices and flower prices have also surged due to greatly reduced supply. Last year saw a number of days with daily sales surpassing 700 million won (499,000 U.S. dollars), but we’ve rarely had such days this year.”

A flower merchant at Sookmyung Girls` High School in Seoul said, “I feel distressed as flower prices have doubled but flowers hardly sell. How can I blame customers for not buying flowers since the economy is in such bad shape?”

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