Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fresh Flowers - Luxury Item?


The fine blog, shelterrific, queried its readers in a recent post whether fresh flowers were a luxury in these belt-tightening times, or a must-have regardless.

Their readers responded that mostly they try to have some kind of flowers around the house, even if it's just a stem of something small in the bathroom. Encouraging words for a florist to hear in these gloomy economic times!

But - they by far seemed to make these small purchases at chain grocery stores and not at a locally owned flower shop. Sigh...from encouraging words, to discouraging words. A few reader comments are not a complete marketing survey, but I have to wonder why people choose to get flowers from a food store? The price point? The convenience of not making another stop? The Society of American Florists graph above shows how few flowers were purchased at flower shops this past Valentine's Day.

No, we don't carry tulips for $6 a bunch like they do at the grocery store, but neither am I buying them by the pallet for 40 stores. I, instead, hand choose the bunches of tulips I carry from the flower market, looking for larger sizes, novelty types with fringes or lily shaped petals, and the newest trendy colors. Generally I can't even buy a bunch of tulips wholesale for $6, never mind sell it at that price.



Are florists perceived as being too expensive to get "just a little something"? Or that we can't be bothered with someone who just wants one stem? I hope not! I'd love to sell just one stem, to lots and lots of people! This week we have these amazing mini cymbidium orchids stems (see photo) - only $7.50 each, 8-12 blooms on each, lovely spring colors, and they will easily last you two weeks. Surely a great value that I don't think you can get in a grocery store.

How does the retail flower industry get the consumer back in the shop? Over all flower sales are up, yet the retail florist piece of the pie continues to shrink. Some day there may just be floral studios who do event and wedding work and all other flowers will be purchased at mass market retailers - grocery and big box discounters. Would you miss flower shops if they were gone? Because that's how it looks like things are going in this industry.

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