With less than a week to go before Christmas, most florists are expecting a strong holiday showing, according to a recent survey of Society of American Florists retailer members.
Overall, 58 percent of respondents say they’re planning for a sales increase. Meanwhile, about 25 percent expect Christmas sales this year to track closely with 2017 returns, and 13 percent said they are planning for a sales decrease. Among those who are most optimistic: Small shops with $150,000 to $299,999 in annual sales and large operations with $1 million or more in annual sales and florists in the Mid-Atlantic region.
The survey, which was emailed to SAF retailer members on Dec. 5 and had a response rate of 5.6 percent, also queried respondents about fall holiday sales and Christmas planning.
Among the highlights:
Overall Positive Christmas Outlook
Sales expectations by business size showed the following:
- Among retailers with $150,000 or less in annual sales, 50 percent are planning for an increase;
- 65 percent of those with $150,000 to $299,999 in annual sales are expecting an increase;
- 53 percent with annual sales of $300,000 to $499,999 say they are planning for an uptick;
- 50 percent of shops with $500,000 to $999,999 in annual sales expect to see sales rise; and
- 67 percent of shops with $1 million-plus in annual sales say they are planning for a sales increase.
Breaking down responses further, the percentage planning for a sales increase by region shows that those in the Mid-Atlantic appear most optimistic; respondents in South Atlantic states appear less confident about holiday returns:
- Pacific: 62 percent
- Mountain: 62 percent
- Mid-Atlantic: 78 percent
- South Central: 64 percent
- North Central: 56 percent
- Northeast: 60 percent
- South Atlantic: 35 percent
About 45 percent of respondents decked their halls in November, before Thanksgiving. Another 26 percent decorated after Thanksgiving, and 23 percent had the jingle bells and mistletoe out in October.
Holiday Promotions: In-Store Events, Online Marketing
The survey also asked respondents to share some of their best holiday marketing ideas in write in responses. Here are some of their responses.”
- “We host a Ladies Night Out event with other downtown businesses within walking distance. It is part of a week-long open house in early November and is attended by approximately 750 people.”
- “Our downtown business association is hosting a midnight madness event. We were open late serving homemade cookies and hot chocolate. All pre-booked Christmas centerpieces were offered with a discount.”
- “For Christmas, we are using social networking, posting flyers and promoting a special for poinsettia plants. A percentage of each poinsettia sale will be donated to a [local nonprofit].”
- “We have two special events every year. The first is our ‘Second Sunday in November’ Holiday open house. The shop is all decorated in Christmas and fall, too. We added a Wine and Cheese evening event 10 years ago which has grown each year.”
- “We send out weekly email blasts. We also started doing the ‘deal of the day’: one item on sale for 30 percent off. We have many different gift items and holiday decor we can highlight. We put it out on Facebook and Instagram and it does bring people in.”
- “We are driving business with Facebook and Instagram promotions, cross-promoting with local businesses, participating in ‘holiday markets’ at other functions.”
While groups such as the National Retail Federation have been reporting a steady increase in total Halloween spending — for most respondents, the day isn’t a major event. About 61 percent of respondents did not promote Halloween this year. For roughly 71 percent of respondents, Halloween sales this year were about on par with last year. Seventy-three percent of respondents said Halloween-themed or colored fresh flowers were their best-selling holiday items. Twenty-four percent said they offered Halloween specials. Only 8 percent of respondents hosted a Halloween-themed event in-store this year.
“Halloween has become another ‘non-holiday’ in our area,” wrote one Ohio florist. “We experienced a severe economic downturn in our area in 2008 and recovery has been very slow”
Not everyone dismissed Halloween though. “A hayride through an adjacent cemetery and festival creates enormous goodwill and appreciation that carries over to the next flower holiday periods,” wrote one Massachusetts retailer.
In Halifax, Nova Scotia, one retailer said the shop focuses on seasonal items, rather than specific holidays in the fall. “[That way], we create pieces that are easily repurposed for the day after the event, adding a lot of perceived value to the designs,” the retailer wrote. “I try to see if anything can be used two ways whenever possible, like a bouquet can be a centerpiece, or the witch can come out and you’ve got a pretty autumn design.”
Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday
About 36 percent of respondents said Thanksgiving sales remained the same this year, while 33 percent saw an increase and 29 percent saw a decrease.
“I think the economy is better, but we are also advertising more online and trying to be more [visible] in our area,” wrote a California florist.
“Having the cooler full of lovely centerpieces [helped our sales],” according to a florist in Montana.
- 47 percent said Black Friday sales were about the same this year, compared to last year — about a quarter of respondents said the day isn’t applicable to their business.
- 46 percent said Small Business Saturday sales were about the same this year. About 16 percent saw an increase and 18 percent saw a decrease. About 19 percent said the day did not apply to them.
- 51 percent said online sales for Cyber Monday remained on track with 2017 returns; 41 percent said the day does not apply to them.
Mary Westbrook is the editor in chief of Floral Management magazine.