MIAMI (CBS4) – If your plans are to send a bouquet of balloons instead of flowers this Valentine’s Day, it is going to cost you more than ever to buy. That is,  if you can find them.

At the Abbott Florist shop on Miami Beach they are prepping for the busiest day of the year.  “Non stop and last minute. Everyone comes in Tuesday 5 o’clock in the afternoon, make it home with flowers or else you are in trouble,” Romina Encio told CBS4’s David Sutta.

This year they’ve crammed their showroom with all kinds of flowers. What’s missing? It turns out the most expensive item in the store is not the roses, or even a vase. It’s the balloon.

“Last year we had this filled with balloons. You couldn’t walk in the store. This year we didn’t even purchase,” Encio said. “I have to charge for a balloon $12, when a dozen roses wrapped in paper are $15. So they would rather take a dozen roses.”

The skyrocketing price has nothing to do with the demand, but rather what goes in it. Helium.

“When you say it went up how much did it go up?” Sutta asked Encio.

“100%” she replied.

“Like $5 to $10?” Sutta asked.

“No, from $80 to $160.”  A price hike she had to pass on.

Alicia Abru with Tech Air explained it’s a big problem.

“There is a big, big shortage of helium.” Abru said.

Manufacturing issues that have lingered for months worldwide has led to price hikes. Helium is used for everything from welding to MRI’s.  Some distributors are now rationing their gas.  Abru isn’t rationing it but she can’t hold onto it either.

“I just got a shipment now and I’m sure by the end of the day I’m sure I won’t have any helium left.”   She expects the same thing to happen tomorrow as florists scramble to fill orders.

Back at the florist shop Encio is planning to sell as many flowers as possible.  Balloons will be a bonus.

“I’m going to fill as much as I can with that one tank. I just can’t afford to pay two tanks, that’s like $360.” Encio said.

The moral of the story, besides having to spend more for helium, is if your sweetie buys you flowers he likes you.

If he buys you balloons, he’s not full of hot air, he loves you.


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