February 12, 2014, 10:16 AM

UPS gears up for Valentine’s Day

After a rough 2013 holiday season, the parcel delivery service says it is ready to meet shoppers’ needs for Friday’s holiday. The average shopper is expected to spend more than $135 on the holiday this year, up nearly 4% from a year ago, according to one new survey.

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After UPS Inc. admitted last month that it wasn’t prepared for the large increase in online orders placed during last holiday season, the parcel delivery service says it is ready to transport the roughly 118 million flowers that consumers will send via its service for Valentine’s Day. That’s up more than 24% from about 95 million flowers shoppers sent last year, UPS says.

Because 90% of the flowers imported for Valentine’s Day come from Latin America and pass through Miami International Airport, UPS says it has add additional flights from the airport to ensure that it can meet consumer demand.

Flowers pose special delivery challenges because they have to be kept fresh, says Jose Acosta, UPS Americas region president of Latin American operations. “Our planners work closely with customers and government inspectors so that the entire journey can be completed in as little as 24 hours,” he says. While global daily deliveries exceeded expectations during the holidays, UPS says it is ready for a late surge in Valentine’s Day deliveries.

Online florist ProFlowers isn’t just focused on deliveries this Valentine’s Day. The retailer is also using the occasion to focus on branding. The online florist, which is owned by Liberty Interactive Corp., No. 5 in the 2013 Top 500 Guide, is working with Uber, an online service that matches ride-seeking people with taxi cabs and other car services, to deliver a single rose to each consumer who uses Uber’s service on Feb. 14.

The retailer hopes the promotion encourages consumers to use its service and download its mobile app. The retailer is also offering Uber users who use ProFlowers’ app a 15% off discount.

Flowers are likely to be a popular gift this Valentine’s Day, according to several new reports.  Americans will spend more than $1.83 billion on flowers—both online and offline—this Valentine’s Day, according to estimates from industry research firm IBISWorld.

The research firm says it expects total Valentine’s Day retail revenue in the United States to rise 3.7% to $21.62 billion from $20.84 billion in 2013. And the average consumer will spend $135.10, up slightly from $134.28 last year.

While sales of all relevant categories are expected to grow, expensive gifts like jewelry are expected to have the biggest jumps. Jewelry, for example, is expected to account for $1.70 billion, up 4.3% from $1.63 billion last year.

The “2014 Chase Blueprint Valentine’s Day Survey” found that much of the spending increases IBISWorld and others anticipate are related to consumers’ growing expectations of receiving more expensive gifts.

The survey found that men who are anticipating a gift expect nearly $230 to be spent on them, compared with women who expect their gifts to total $196.

The survey also found that 40% of consumers prefer to receive flowers over chocolate and that Americans, on average, will spend an average of $84 on gifts this holiday.

Research firm Research Now last month conducted the online survey of 1,209 consumers on behalf of Chase Card Services.

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