The long hot summer

may finally be coming to an end - I know many of you have absolutely loved it; those of you who know me will know how I have hated every single second of it on both a personal and professional level - but now we will begin to move into what I believe will be an even longer winter (by winter I mean 6 months of above average temperatures, no frost or snow and pretty much dull, dismal days - Autumn seems to begin now and ends when the first of the daffodil bulbs put in their appearance). I've always said I'm a "winter girl" because I do love a good frosty day; blue skies, sunshine and ice twinkling all around with the air cold enough to see your breath, is my perfect kind of day, yet the colours of autumn are something to stand in awe at. 

We are about to enter such a beautiful period; the oranges, reds and golds which are making themselves known outside, are also creeping into the stock we can purchase for inside. The best sunrises and sunsets occur during October and November (in my opinion). From a business point of view we are about to enter the best of times.I might, finally, be able to switch off the aircon, and it is because of that (on a business level) I despise the sun so much. The high temperatures we've had, followed by the intense humidity has caused my little shop no end of issues this year. 

Because we are slightly south-west facing we get sunshine in the shop from around 11am each morning, until the sun finally sets each evening. Add to that we have a flat roof (which the sun burns onto all day) and a food shop next to us with cookers runnning for 6 hours each evening, and it was nothing for us to be registering temperatures of over 30'c inside the shop - that's with the aircon running. The days when I tried not to run it the thermometer was registering over 45'c. Because of this I had to make so many changes to how I run the shop, changes which have seen a lot of disappointed people leave the shop, and opened me up to a barage of abuse from people angry that I've not had what they want - I'm assuming their outbursts and aggressive behaviour has also been because they were fed up with the weather. 

Temperatures that high are not in any way good for flowers and even though I have bought really carefully, ensuring I've only bought in the flowers I need for each day, along with a few spares to cover customers who haven't ordered and have come in on the day wanting to take flowers away with them, I have dealt with the highest levels of wastage in the 17 years we've been trading. You know I won't sell anything if it's been in the shop more than 48 hours - it's how I've built up my business and great reputation but there have been some days when it's been so hot that I've had flowers in at 6 am which I've been lucky to keep going throughout the day. I've not bought roses unless they have been ordered because they don't like being in the shop; I have to buy them in bunches of 20 so if they don't sell that same day I'm throwing away £40 of stock. That £40 can go someway towards the electric bill (which this year has been around £700 per month and our charges are about to treble this month - another reason to be happy it's cooling down somewhat although still not enough to turn off the air con yet). That's £200 per month more than last summer. During the cooler months it can drop to just £100 as I only need to be running lights (which I've got into the habit of turning off when I'm not in certain rooms) and the kettle, although with the new price hike it will be infinitely more this year, as I am sure it will be for so many of you. 

I know it has been incovenient for those of you who have turned up at 2pm wanting to take flowers away with you and I've had to apologise and tell you I don't have anything I can spare until the following day; believe me it hurts me far more than it hurts you, but I have to look at the bigger picture. I buy what I know I need for each day, plus a few spares; once those spares have gone though that's it until the next day. So often those spares don't go and this adds to wastage which I neither like, nor want. It just so happens that the not-so-friendly people tend to come in wanting something on the days I don't have any spares.

I've worked in floristry for 36 years and this has been, by far, the weirdest year to date; I've not known from one day to the next whether I will be able to get flowers which should be in abundance. Having worked in the industry for so long I usually know what is about, will be about, and what price I should expect to pay. Not this year, and the weather has played a big part in that. Things which should be available aren't, things which shouldn't suddenly are - whoever heard of Tulips in August? That's just ridiculous, yet they've been in the markets - why anyone in the temps we've had would buy them though is beyond me; you'll be lucky to keep them alive for for 8 hours, let alone the 8 days they really should be lasting. Russia/Ukraine, Brexit, Covid, the weather, utility costs, fuel prices have all played a major part in the floristry world, and none of them in a good way. We've all been affected by these in every aspect of our lives - I don't get though why people will accept the supermarket doesn't have bread towards the end of the day and go elsewhere to get some, yet florists are still expected to have every flower someone may wish to purchase and we have to deal with the attitude when we don't - strange world we live in. 

Now, whilst I am relishing the colder months putting in an appearance - for the reasons I've mentioned above - in typical Sarah style I have rambled on about other stuff and not made the point I was trying to make in the first place. I am fully aware a lot of you are dreading the winter months arriving, not just because you are all crazy and like the heat, but because your utility bills have risen as well and the arrival or winter means that instead of enjoying curling up in front of a fire with a hot cup of soup, many of you will have to now choose between heating your homes, or feeding yourselves. Whilst the shops utility bills have trebled, I know some customers (and several friends) whose are now 5 (6 and 7 also) times higher than they were. When you are already struggling to make the ends meet these huge increases will financially cripple so many people. I cannot afford to help you with your finances - I've had to borrow to cover the huge increase in the shops bills which means I've not been able to pay myself as well so have no money myself - but what I can do is lend you an ear when things get too much for you; if you are finding it a struggle please don't feel you are alone; I am in the shop 6 days each week and I can offer you a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate during the winter months. It won't solve your financial issues or heat your home but I know from personal experience that sometimes we just need to sound off and I've been told I'm a good listener. I won't judge, nor will anything you talk about go any further than the 4 walls surrounding the building. This winter is going to be so very hard for so many people; if you find yourself in the deepest depths of the darkness and can't talk to friends/family please reach out, to someone, anyone. You may not see shining white or magnificent gold but there will be light at the end of the darkness. Please do not be afraid to ask. 


Popular Posts