COMMENT: Red roses won’t impress this Horsham florist on Valentine’s Day

February 14 will be the first Valentine’s Day I’ve been single for five years. And I have to admit, for many reasons it comes as a relief.

This year there will be no last minute dash to Clintons, Thorntons and the florist - always in that order.

This year there is no agonising over the prawn cocktail or stuffed pepper starter for my ill-prepared dinner for two.

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This year, best of all, there are no Tatty Teddies with lame love messages which somehow mean so much more coming from a scarred bear.

How I loathe them.

This year, according to a recent survey, I’ll be saving more than £50.

Because on average Horsham’s romantics will spend £50.12 on their partners - or wannabe partners - for Valentine’s Day.

Online perfume retailer Escentual ranked us around 100th in a league table of the most romantic towns in the UK.

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Apparently the real heartthrobs reside in Reigate, where couples spending nearly £200 on one another topped the charts.

And I thought £50 was pushing it.

So what are today’s love junkies spending their hard-earned wad on? And what exactly do we want for Reassurance Day?

Women are easy. Stick a red rose under her nose and she’s putty in your hands.

Not true for Alice Bradley.

Come next week the florist will be so sick of flowers that time away has already been scheduled in the diary.

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“I don’t buy into the whole red rose thing,” said the owner of Blossom in Piries Alley, Horsham town centre.

“People don’t see the value in it because it’s a lot of money.

“I think in these times - yes you get some people who are out and out romantics - but most just want a lovely meal.”

The costs for Alice to bring them in from her Holland suppliers sky rocket when certain events take place across Europe.

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International Women’s Day in Russia, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and other religious celebrations will double her bill.

And with a top-notch dozen priced around £65, Blossom is too grappling with online competition.

“The thing about online is, most are made up in a big warehouse,” she tells me. “They’re not made with love. Sometimes they’re sourced from different locations, so you don’t always know what you’re getting.

“And everything we make is hand delivered by us, rather than a big hairy courier man.”

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This is not to say trade is suffering at all, in fact, for the past six years Alice has enjoyed much success.

The 34-year-old, who admits to taking on the shop because she ‘wasn’t very good at being employed by people’, says more and more customers are beginning to swap the traditional roses for something else like the spring bouquet.

And as V-Day looms, she can expect an influx of men to swarm her shop in a confused mess, looking for something that says ‘I’ve put thought into this’ but is always ordered and collected in the same manner as a Chinese takeaway - last minute and with extreme care. On the drive home losing a petal is just as bad as spilling soy sauce.

“I love men shopping because I can tell them what to buy, they’re always happy to go along with what we suggest, whereas women can be a little bit more - they know what they want.

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“Last year I had one guy who came in the day after Valentine’s and, maybe got a bit too drunk the night before, and was asking for flowers, so we do get the odd straggler.”

Personally, I’m breathing a sigh of relief. But that’s not to say I won’t welcome any Valentine’s Day gifts - my contact details are below.

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