Here’s a question most florists have wrestled with at some point: Is it worth it to be open on a Sunday for Mother’s Day?
The Society of American Florists’ post-holiday survey this year made it clear that most florists received few orders — about 5 percent on average of their holiday designs — on Sunday. By contrast nearly 30 percent of orders came in Friday and just over 20 percent came in Saturday. Almost 20 percent were placed Thursday.
That’s a drop-off Manny Gonzales of Tiger Lily in Charleston, South Carolina, knows well, and it is part of the reason his shop doesn’t open its doors on Mother’s Day.
“The quality of the Mother’s Day order goes down dramatically after noon on Saturday,” explained Gonzales, a member of SAF’s Retailers Council.
Procrastinating customers who place orders late Saturday or on Sunday often create unnecessary hassles, he added: They want “something cheap,” and don’t have key info (e.g. delivery address).
“Plus, we want to give our folks at least Sunday off to spend with their families, then come back strong on Monday to start another week,” he said.
For Gonzales, Mother’s Day isn’t about getting as many orders as possible either. His target is always measured growth.
“We set a goal about 8 percent more than the previous year, schedule staff and order flowers for that figure, deliver a high-quality product, make a solid profit, and get out,” he explained, adding that Tiger Lily hit that growth goal again this year. “We feel that by being too hungry, we burnout employees, disappoint customers, and lose profit by reckless COGS and wage spending.”
In Philadelphia, SAF Treasurer Chris Drummond, AAF, of Plaza Flowers has a different experience and a different take.
“Since our first Mother’s Day in 1984 we have been open and delivering on Sunday,” he said. “All the mothers [on staff] get the day off, but everyone else works. It is wildly busy. Every year sales exceed the previous. Consumers are making purchasing decisions later and later every year. Closing that day would never even cross my mind.”
Sunday: Worth the Effort
Michael Pugh, AAF, Pugh’s Flowers, Memphis: “We started opening on Sunday in 2015 for regular work. Up until then, we only accepted funeral work for delivery on Mother’s Day Sunday. We have found that it is well worth the effort and overtime to service last- minute customers. [That said,] the trend still is holding that a majority of consumers want the flowers to go to an office on Friday if the mother is employed.”
Kristen Gainan-Sparboe, Gainan’s Floral & Greenhouses, Billings, Montana: “Mother’s Day Sunday is one of our garden center’s busiest days of the spring season. At our other locations, we use this as a day to catch the last-minute walk in-customers. We also offer delivery until 3 p.m. This also allows us to deliver any unsuccessful delivery attempts from the previous day. Our hours are shortened for this day, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. as opposed to our normal day of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. We have a much lighter staff because it is not a huge day for us, but it is still worth being open.”
Rachel Martin, Ballard Blossom, Seattle: “We were open on Sunday. In my market, it is totally expected, and the shift to ordering later and later continues. Friday was our busiest sales day, so spreading the deliveries over two days is easier. We started deliveries on Mother’s Day Sunday about 15 years ago. The first few years, we only did 50 or so deliveries, and just had a handful of employees working. Customers did not expect us to be open. Each year it has grown. This year, we did about 350 deliveries on Sunday. The first few years, I believe we charged a higher delivery fee. Now, it is just normal delivery charge. Customers expect us to be open. This year, we needed the full crew to be here to finish up orders: all designers, delivery and customer service were here at least part of the day. Consumers expect service and same day-delivery. If we don’t provide it they will go elsewhere for other gift options.”
Sunday: Not Enough Business to Justify Cost
SAF Chairman Shirley Lyons, AAF, PFCI, Dandelions Flowers & Gifts, Eugene, Oregon: “We have over the years been open on Mother’s Day Sunday (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.); however, we found that the customer volume and average sales are extremely low versus the staff time invested. In addition, we are running out of product by Saturday evening and have no wholesalers in our area to draw additional product from when sales are strong, as they were this year. Staffing is another issue. Our staff is already pushing both overtime and exhaustion by Saturday night, and we have just not seen the financial results that would merit bringing [Sunday hours] back. They need a break also before heading right back on Monday to a busy day. [This year], we had a record-setting Mother’s Day in both sales volume and deliveries, and all our staff had a day off as they are mothers themselves.”
Jessica Cosentino, AAF, Cosentino’s Florist, Auburn, New York: “We have always been open six days a week and on Mother’s Day, Easter and Valentine’s Day opened on that Sunday if [those holidays] landed on it. About 10 years ago we stopped. You would find two or three last-minute people stop in on the way to mom’s house for a quick wrap or small centerpiece. The purchases never equaled out the pay of a staff person. We try and advertise early delivery for mom to enjoy the flowers for the whole weekend. As a small business, we find it important for our staff who work very hard the last two weeks to take that day and enjoy it with their family.”
Jo Buttram AAF, AMF, Shirley’s Flowers Inc., Rogers, Arkansas: “We have tried being open but we did not do enough business to warrant being open and our customers are not used to us or any of the flower shops here being open. We’re in the Bible Belt, so that might have a lot to do with this. We usually deliver our ‘bring-back’ that we weren’t able to deliver on Saturday, but this year, we did not have any redeliveries. [Conversely], when we were open on Valentine’s Day on a Sunday we had good sales and lots of deliveries.”
Jeremy Lohman, Scott’s House of Flowers, Lawton, Oklahoma: “We are always closed on Sundays. So far, we are sticking to it. Our community is used to it since we have been like this for 47 years. I can see the pressure that other communities put on retailers for the convenience factors. So far, we have not felt that need. We made the decision a long time ago to remain closed on Sunday’s for rest, church etc. No regrets. I have always been told that if it’s not your regular hours, and you just decide to open on some or just one Sunday in a year, that it’s usually not worth it. Your customers just won’t know.”