High prices at the pump have forced Terry Shadrick to reduce his delivery area at his Danville flower shop.
His business, HW Brown Florist, typically delivers not only to Danville but also to various communities in southern Pittsylvania County. But it has had to cut back, limiting deliveries to the city and Blairs and Ringgold.
“We had to control our delivery area,” Shadrick told the Danville Register & Bee on Thursday.
The move, in addition to the purchase of a smaller, more fuel-efficient delivery van, has helped keep fuel costs in check at the Chestnut Street business. Although consumer gasoline prices doubled, Shadrick’s fuel expenses increased 10% to 15%, he said.
Other merchants who sell and deliver flowers have also changed the way they do business to reduce the impact of high gas prices. The pain at the pump has prompted some florists to increase their delivery rates.
“It’s affecting my bottom line,” said Willie Pounds, owner of B&W Floral Design at South Main and Hughes streets in Danville.
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To accommodate, Pounds has increased its delivery fee, which is determined by how far the company delivers an order, he said.
Although gas prices have been astronomical in recent months, they are slowly declining, according to AAA figures.
On Friday, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in Virginia was $4.51, down from $4.65 a week ago and $4.77 a month ago, according to AAA. Locally, the average price on Friday was $4.23 a gallon in Danville and $4.18 in Pittsylvania County.
Some local stations have even dropped below the $4 mark.
Since Monday, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline has dropped a penny to $4.75, AAA reported Thursday.
According to the Energy Information Administration, gas demand increased from 8.92 million barrels per day to 9.41 million before the July 4 holiday, AAA reported. Total domestic gas inventories decreased.
“Generally, these supply/demand trends would push pump prices higher,” according to a AAA press release. “However, falling oil prices have contributed to lower pump prices.”
At Giles Flowerland on South Main Street, owner Vicki Brown said her business now consolidates deliveries in each area of the city that has multiple orders. Instead of delivering orders as they arrive, Brown employees wait and make multiple deliveries in one area to avoid traveling to the same section more than once, she said.
“We do one section of the city at a time and another section at a time,” explained Brown.
The practice saves costs, he said, adding that his fuel expenses have increased by about 20%.
Brown’s business doesn’t charge for deliveries to funeral homes or hospitals, but that could change if gas prices remain high, he said. It has also refrained from increasing the price of its products.
“Right now, we’re just trying to contain those costs,” Brown said.
At B&W, Pounds said he is avoiding consolidating deliveries to sections of the city, opting instead to ship orders to customers as they arrive.
“We try to get it to them when people want it,” Pounds said.
Mel Goad, manager of the Motley Florist on Mount Cross Road, said fuel costs have nearly doubled there. Like Giles Flowerland, he is trying to make multiple deliveries to the same part of town instead of driving back and forth to one area.
“I try to keep [multiple deliveries] in areas where they will go to the same place, but it doesn’t always work that way,” Goad said.
As for delivery fees, the company raised them a year or two ago, he said. Motley Florist delivers to a radius of about 20 to 25 miles around the city and in parts of Pittsylvania County and Caswell County, North Carolina, Goad said.
At HW Brown, Shadrick said he had started cutting deliveries before the latest gas price hike. Once the raise came, “that sealed it,” he said.
As for sales volume, it’s hard to know how much inflation and high gas prices have affected Shadrick’s business, he said.
“Sales were so bad [during the COVID-19 pandemic],” he said. “Coming out of the pandemic, we don’t have good comparisons. 2020 and 2021 had already taken a pretty hefty toll.”
“I think, fortunately or unfortunately, the pandemic put us in a good position to help weather rising gas prices because we became more efficient and were able to work with lower order volumes, so when gas prices gasoline went crazy, it was not a shock,” added Shadrick.