Oh by gosh, by golly: More than half of florists saw sales go up this holiday season. Among those who saw an increase, 37 percent credited a strong regional economy.
Those results are from a recent post-holiday survey of Society of American Florists members, which also found that sales dropped for about 27 percent of respondents and held steady — as compared to 2016 holiday returns — for about 18 percent. Top reasons for a decline, according to florists who saw sales dip this season: competition from mass marketers/supermarkets and order-gatherers, along with a drop in corporate business.
Sixty percent of respondents this year called social media the most effective promotional vehicle for promoting the holidays.
The survey also found that the average transaction was about $68, a figure that’s slightly higher than 2016’s $67. Last year, 46 percent of florists reported a December holiday sales increase.
Positive Returns: Strong Web Site, Phone and Walk-In Sales
Among those respondents who saw an increase, about 31 percent said the rise was between 6 and 10 percent. Almost a quarter said it was between 1 and 5 percent. Meanwhile, about 9 percent saw an uptick of between 11 and 15 percent, and almost 6 percent saw sales increase 21 percent or more. About 4 percent said sales were up 16 to 20 percent. (Remaining respondents weren’t sure about the percentage increase.)
Fifty-three percent of respondents reported increased sales from their web sites. Some florists also saw jumps in phone sales (49 percent), walk-in sales(45 percent), wire-in orders (16 percent), giftware (12 percent) and wire-out orders (5 percent).
Florists with Declines: Sharp Competition
Among those respondents who saw a decrease, 52 percent weren’t sure of the percentage. About 17 percent said the drop-off ranged from 1 to 5 percent; another 17 percent experienced declines of 6 to 10 percent. About 6 percent saw a drop of 11 to 15 percent and 4 percent said sales dropped by 16 to 20 percent. Another 4 percent said sales dropped by 21 percent or more.
Florists who saw decreased sales named competition from mass marketers/supermarkets (24 percent), competition from order-gatherers (20 percent) and decreased corporate business (20 percent) as their top three factors.
Forty-one percent of respondents experienced a drop in wire-in sales, 37 percent saw walk-in sales decline and 29 percent said wire-out orders dipped. Respondents also noted decreases in giftware (23 percent) and website (20 percent) sales.
Social Marketing Ranks High
Sixty percent of respondents said they promoted the holidays at about the same level as last year. About a quarter increased their efforts.
About 85 percent of all respondents used social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs) to promote the holidays. Other popular vehicles:
- store signage, posters and displays (69 percent);
- email (60 percent);
- online ads (50 percent);
- print ads (40 percent);
- outdoor ads (25 percent);
- direct mail (21 percent);
- radio ads (20 percent);
- and public relations and media interviews (15 percent).
Respondents Split on Parties and Decor
Slightly more than 50 percent of respondents did not offer holiday décor services. Among those who did offer décor services, about 57 percent said those sales stayed steady, when compared to December holidays 2016.
About 60 percent of respondents did not host a holiday themed event in-store (such as an open house). Fifty-eight percent of respondents had an after Christmas sale.
Hours and Staffing: Finding the Right Fit
Most respondents (51 percent) were closed all day on Christmas Eve Day, a Sunday this year. Almost 98 percent were closed on Christmas Day. About 64 percent were closed on New Year’s Eve Day, and 95 percent were closed on New Year’s Day.
About 47 percent of respondents did not hire additional staff for the holidays. Seventeen percent hired two additional team members; 15 percent hired one person; 8 percent brought in 3 people; 6 percent hired four to six workers; 4 percent hired seven to 10 people; 2 percent brought in 11 to 20 people and 2 percent hired 21 people or more.
Look for more coverage of holiday sales, including poinsettia trends, in upcoming issues of EBrief and Floral Management, along with sales predictions for Valentine’s Day.