A mid-week holiday, mild weather in much of the country, a strong economy — and a lot of blood, sweat and savvy marketing and promotion led to a strong Valentine’s Day this year for many florists.
Sixty-eight percent of Society of American Florists retailer members responding to the group’s post-holiday survey said their Valentine’s Day sales increased this year, compared to sales in 2017, when the holiday fell on a Tuesday. About 41 percent said sales this year were higher than Valentine’s Day 2007, when the holiday last fell on a Wednesday.
“This year we focused on preparation, setting goals, working more efficiently, and reducing stress,” wrote one respondent in Oklahoma. “It was our best ever.”
“We raised prices on a dozen roses by 5 percent this year to become more competitive with other florists in the area and had a goal of a 5 percent increase in total Valentine’s sales but ended up seeing a 25 percent increase in sales,” wrote a florist in Massachusetts. “[I’m] very pleased with how the holiday turned out.”
The survey, emailed Feb. 19, had a response rate of 11.7 percent.
Among florists who experienced an increase, 91 percent attributed the positive result to the day of the week, a Wednesday.
Not everyone saw those positive returns: About 17 percent of respondents said sales remained on par with last year’s returns and 14 percent said they decreased.
Throughout the country, competition remained steep.
“People can get flowers now pretty much everywhere, from a local florist , grocery store, hardware, druggist and even convenience stores and gas stations at Valentine’s Day,” wrote a florist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “More than ever, we florists are the experts in flowers and need to continue to raise the floral bar so consumers know that when they want quality, they know to come to us.”
“Today consumers think we are like Amazon,” noted a florist in California. “’Take it off the shelf and send it out on the delivery truck.’ We are not like that. We have to process, design, route and deliver.”
“Folks were much more frugal than last year, averages were lower, even though rings were up,” said a florist in New Jersey.
According to the survey, the average overall transaction this year was down slightly, to $73, compared to $78 last year and $84 in 2016.
Other highlights from the survey:
Florists with Increased Sales
Beyond day of the week, other factors that helped generate success, according to florists with increased sales: weather (49 percent); regional economy (29 percent); increased shop advertising and promotion (26 percent); higher price points (24 percent); fewer flower shops in the area (17 percent); higher delivery charges (8 percent) and expanded territory/new location (3 percent).
Among those respondents who experienced an increase:
- 35 percent saw sales grow 6 to 10 percent.
- 25 percent saw 1- to 5-percent gains.
- 14 percent said sales were up by 11 to 15 percent.
- 11 percent saw increases of more than 21 percent.
- 9 percent saw sales increase 16 to 20 percent.
Within this group, 69 percent saw an increase in website orders, 62 percent experienced an uptick in phone sales and 60 percent saw growth in walk-in sales.
Florists with Decreased Sales
Florists who saw sales decline blamed competition from order-gatherers (38 percent); mass marketers/supermarkets (38 percent); regional economy (21 percent); competition from other gifts-non-floral vendors (19 percent); weather (14 percent); lower price points and average sales (10 percent); competition from other florists (9 percent); day of the week (5 percent) and competition from street vendors (5 percent).
At least one respondent, in northern Virginia, noted that Ash Wednesday may have depressed some Valentine’s Day sales this year—and a particularly bad flu season didn’t help either.
“We found out on the 13th that Ash Wednesday was going to be a factor when one of our customers told us his priest said they are not supposed to celebrate with flowers or candy on the 14th,” she wrote, adding that the flu also created some staffing challenges.
Among florists who experienced a decrease:
- 26 percent said the drop was between 6 and 10 percent.
- 21 percent said the decline ranged from 1 to 5 percent
- 10 percent saw an 11- to 15-percent drop-off.
- 10 percent said sales decreased by 16 to 20 percent
- 8 percent said sales dropped by more than 21 percent
A quarter of respondents with lower sales weren’t sure by how much their sales had dropped.
Within this group, 43 percent saw a drop in wire-in orders, 38 percent saw a decline in walk-in and 30 percent saw drop in phone sales.
Respondents reported that Valentine’s Day sales represent on average almost 13 percent of annual sales — that’s in keeping with reporting from 2017 and 2016.
Red roses remained the flower of choice for many consumers: 66 percent of rose orders were for red varieties. (About 51 percent of all orders were for roses.) Both of those percentages track with 2017 results.
Respondents also noted that about 40 percent of orders were for mixed flowers, just as in 2017, and 8 percent were for non-rose single flower type arrangements (e.g. all tulips). (That number was 7 percent last year.)
On average, respondents charged around $80 for a dozen arranged long-stemmed roses on Valentine’s Day, compared to an everyday price of $65 for a similar design. Respondents charged $63 for a dozen unarranged long-stemmed roses on Valentine’s Day, compared to an everyday, non-holiday price of about $50.
Those numbers represent a slight decrease from last year, when respondents charged $85 on average for a dozen arranged, long-stemmed roses for the holiday and about $66 for a dozen unarranged long-stemmed roses.
About 55 percent of respondents said chocolate or candy were the most popular non-floral gift item this year; 20 percent said balloons were their top non-floral item, followed by greeting cards (12 percent), plush (8 percent), candles (2 percent) and gift baskets (less than 1 percent).
Look for more coverage of the survey, including information on holiday order and delivery timing, successful marketing and promotion efforts and more in next week’s E-Brief.
A national survey commissioned by the Society of American Florists and conducted by the market research firm Ipsos immediately after Valentine’s Day found a fairly consistent number of consumers buying Valentine’s Day flowers in 2018 — and similar preferences in flower and venue selection, along with demographics of holiday flower buyers. Read more.