Valentine sales are coming up roses

On what is their highest profile and busiest time of the year, florists and sellers of all things sweet said Valentine’s Day business this year was a definite improvement over 2011.

That was in line with forecasts from the National Retail Federation that Americans would spend $17.6 billion on Valentine-related items this year, up from $15.7 billion last year.

The average person celebrating the holiday was expected to spend about $126, up more than 8% over last year’s $116 and the highest amount in the survey’s 10-year-history.

Donna Smith, owner of Samuel’s Florist in Burbank, said on Monday that she was seeing more people ordering earlier this year.

Usually she has five to 10 of her 200 Valentine orders placed the week before. This year, however, she had about 50 early orders and some customers even ordered two weeks out, she said.

While Mother’s Day is comparable in terms of sales, Valentine’s Day involves a lot more hustle with delivery.

“You can send your mother flowers any time during the week,” Smith said.

However, most wives, girlfriends and significant others expect to receive flowers or other gifts on Valentine’s Day, she added.

Smith is also seeing more people ordering online and dealing directly with her store.

“It eliminates the middle man,” she said, referring to large floral services that charge a fee and then order from a local florist.

Using a service can sometimes lead to problems, Smith said.

“It’s a little bit easier for a mistake or miscommunication (to occur),” she said.

At Mignon Chocolate in Glendale, owner Joe Terpoghossian said he’s anticipating a 15% increase in sales compared to last year.

While he tripled the size of his staff to cover last year’s Valentine’s Day surge, he’s added 20% more than that this year.

Only about 10% of his sales are pre-orders. The vast majority of his customers drop in to buy a box of sweets either at his Glendale store or his location in Pasadena, Terpoghossian said.

Work begins at 5 a.m. each day at the company’s factory in Van Nuys, where more than 60 varieties of chocolate are used, he said.

This was the first Valentine’s Day for “Cupcake Wars” winner Annette Starbuck, who opened Goodie Girls cupcake shop in Glendale late last year.

As a special treat for Valentine’s Day, Starbuck is bringing in “Home Baked Beanies” — hats for kids, adults and dogs that smell like cupcakes.

“We’re doing great,” Starbuck said. “We’re coming over-prepared.”

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