Here’s Why This Bouquet of Red Roses Costs $72 in NYC.

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Here’s Why This Bouquet of Red Roses Costs $72 in NYC.

To collect the last stem and ribbon, Mr. Patrikis is constantly on the phone, negotiating with 15 dealers to get the best deals.

“If you don’t know how to buy from the wholesalers, the wholesalers will buy you,” he said.

Depending on the length of the stem, the size of the bloom, and the country of origin, a dozen roses in New York City can cost a customer anywhere from $10 at a street vendor to over $120 at a high-end florist. Mr. Patrikis prefers the red rose variety Explorer, which he says tends to have larger flowers and stay fresh longer than some other varieties.

Sales in the floral industry, where same-day local deliveries are common, surged early in the pandemic. With rising fuel costs, flower shortages and supply chain issues, the cost of doing business also rose.

The increased prices are putting pressure on longtime florists like Mr. Patrikis, whose shop was one of five on his block around 2010. Ditmar's Flower Shop is now the last one left.

“We’ve never been so busy in our lives,” Mr. Patrikis, 37, said of reopening in time for Mother’s Day in 2020 after the first closures in the pandemic. “We haven’t slept for a week.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Americans spent nearly $73 billion on flowers, seeds and potted plants last year, an inflation-adjusted increase of 48 percent over 2019.

However, there are signs of instability in the industry.

Troy Conner, the president of Kendall Farms, a large flower farm in Fallbrook, Calif., that sells to supermarket chains and wholesalers, said many of his costs have also skyrocketed.

Since last year, demand for flowers has decreased, he said. He said he might convert some land reserved for growing sunflowers, once a high-yielding crop, to raising goats.

At Ditmars Flower Shop, Mr. Patrikis said the profit margin has fallen from 20 to 30 percent to 10 to 20 percent since the start of the pandemic. The store could generate sales of $150,000 to $300,000 per month.

He said higher sales volume has allowed him to make up the difference so far. This year he expects to sell more than 100,000 red roses, his most popular item, up from 70,000 in 2019. On Valentine's Day, the busiest holiday, he sells 15,000 roses.

The Society of American Florists, a trade group, predicts the number of flower shops in the country will fall to 11,000 by 2026, in part due to closures and consolidations. In 2021 there were 11,600.

There were 398 florists in New York City in the third quarter of last year, up from 432 in the same period in 2019, according to James Parrott, a director of the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School.

Mr. Patrikis' father, John, a Greek immigrant from the island of Nisyros, sold flowers in the subway and eventually opened his first flower shop in Astoria in 1983 before moving to the current 1,500-square-foot store in 2008.

Mr. Patrikis said he felt compelled to stay in the family business. Sales remain brisk, especially because he has a wide range of customers — weddings, funerals, Greek Orthodox churches. Still, he worries about consumer spending habits as most pandemic-era government benefits have dried up.

However, he is optimistic about his own future because his family bought the building in 2003.

“The only ones who will be left are those who own their buildings,” he said.

Ben Casselman contributed reporting.

Produced by Eden Weingart, Andrew Hinderaker and Dagny Salas. Development by Gabriel Gianordoli and Aliza Ehrlich.