Mother’s Day 2018 will go down in the books as a strong holiday for many florists: 60 percent of retail florist respondents to a Society of American Florists’ post-holiday survey reported a sales increase. The same percentage reported an increase last year. Small shops ($150,000 or less in annual sales), large operations ($1 million-plus in annual sales) and florists in suburban locations reported an especially strong holiday this year.
As with Valentine’s Day, respondents noted a time crunch — with many consumers waiting until the end of the week to place orders, though the distribution of sales by day of the week this year tracks closely with returns from last year’s survey.
In addition to the 60 percent of respondents reporting an increase, about 22 percent of respondents said sales were lower; 16 percent said sales were flat. (About 2 percent said they weren’t sure of returns.)
The average purchase amount this year was $68. In 2017 it was $66, up from $64 in 2017.
Particularly strong sales seem to have been seen at self-described suburban shops (67 percent saw an increase); shops with less than $150,000 a year in annual sales (67 percent reported an increase); and shops with $1 million or more in annual sales (71 percent reported an increase).
Meanwhile among rural shops, only 44 percent reported increases and just 49 percent of shops with $150,000 to $299,999 in annual sales saw an increase. (All other categories tracked near the 60-percent average reported for all respondents.)
Among all florists who saw an increase:
- 34 percent said they saw gains between 6 and 10 percent
- 33 percent saw an increase of 1 to 5 percent
- 15 percent saw sales grow 16 to 20 percent
- 7 percent saw sales rise 11 to 15 percent.
Among all florists who saw a decrease:
- 46 percent said sales dropped by 1 to 5 percent
- 46 percent said sales were down 6 to 10 percent
- 6 percent said the drop-off was between 11 and 15 percent
- 3 percent sales were down by 21 percent or more.
Prior to the holiday, about 27 percent of respondents had planned for sales to be up by about 1 to 5 percent. Twenty-three percent anticipated flat sales and another 23 percent predicted a sales uptick in the 6 to 10 percent range.
Timing of Sales
Late in the week proved to be a busy time for florists. On average, 26 percent of Mother’s Day sales came in Friday and 20 percent came in Thursday, with another 20 percent on Saturday. Those results are very similar to results from 2017.
“It was the best Mother’s Day we can remember, but the orders did not hit until Thursday,” wrote a florist in Colorado. “We had many orders waiting for us Monday and suspended the wire services again because of the late orders. People wait until the last minute and expect instant service.”
The breakdown for other days of the week this year was as follows:
- Wednesday, 14 percent
- Tuesday, 8 percent
- Monday, 7 percent
- Sunday (Mother’s Day), 7 percent
- Before Mother’s Day week, 5 percent
Reasons for Sales Increase
Fifty-three percent of florists who saw increased sales credited their regional economy. Other contributing factors for this group:
- increased shop advertising and promotion (41 percent);
- higher price points (39 percent);
- weather (27 percent);
- fewer flower shops in the area (21 percent);
- higher deliver charges (14 percent);
- expanded territory/new location (7 percent).
“[It was] very busy, like last year,” said a florist in Pennsylvania. “[We’re] seeing a big shift to more local business, folks ordering more locally [and] trying to find a flower shop near the recipient.”
Several florists noted proactive steps they took to prep for the holiday, in write-in responses.
“We had daily sales meetings, urging all phone personal to sell product rather than be an order taker,” wrote one florist in South Dakota.
“[We launched our] new website with localized designs [and] our own photos,” noted another florist in New Jersey.
Reasons for Sales Decreases
Top factors for respondents with lower sales included:
- competition from other gifts/non-floral vendors (43 percent);
- competition from order-gatherers (40 percent);
- competition from mass marketers/supermarkets (37 percent);
- regional economy (20 percent);
- competition from other florists (17 percent);
- lower price points (14 percent);
- weather (9 percent); and
- competition from street vendors (6 percent).
In write-in responses, a number of florists noted frustration with order-gatherers and under-value wire orders.
“We rejected many… orders and blocked some as they were below or minimum and don’t follow the rules causing headaches,” wrote a florist in Missouri.
“I do feel the low price points the supermarkets and order-gatherers showcase hurts our industry as a whole,” wrote a florist in Vancouver, British Columbia. “ I try to separate out our flower shop, customer service, design and flower quality from those other venues so the customer feels special and important and their order is treated with love and respect. That is not for all customers but for us it’s a good amount of customers who pay for quality and get quality and prompt service… I’m not opposed to taking order-gatherers’ orders, but not at the price point they send.”
Other Survey Highlights
Cut flowers reigned. On average, respondents said that 77 percent of their Mother’s day sales were cut flowers. Fifteen percent were flowering and green houseplants and 10 percent were outdoor bedding and garden plants.
Ring my bell. On average, 41 percent of holiday orders came in via phone; 25 percent came in via the web; 21 percent were walk-in; 15 percent came from wire services or order gatherers. (2 percent were other, unspecified.)
Shut it down? Thirty-five percent of respondents never suspended incoming wire orders. About 23 percent suspended them on Friday; 16 percent on Saturday and 10 percent on Sunday. Fifty-three percent of respondents never cut off orders completely. About 24 percent did so on Saturday and 10 percent on Sunday. About 4 percent cut the off on Friday.
The survey, emailed May 20 and had a response rate of 4.4 percent. Percentages have been rounded to whole numbers.
Look for more coverage of SAF’s Spring Holiday Survey next week. Check out results from SAF’s 2018 Mother’s Day consumer poll.