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SAF Wednesday E-Brief
January 13, 2016
E-Brief Links >   Past Issues      Contact UsFollow SAF on:   Share on Linkedin Twitter Share on Facebook

In this issue ...
  • After a Cheery Christmas, Florists Worry about Valentine’s Day Drop
  • February 14: Tempered Expectations
  • Schaffer, Kratt Dig into Trend Details for Floral Management
  • WF&FSA President Talks Challenges, Successes and Industry Shifts
  • Why the U.S. Economy Could Keep Growing Until 2020
  • Business Builders
  • Best Practices
  • Weddings and Events
  • Tip of the Week
  • Product Spotlight


    After a Cheery Christmas, Florists Worry about Valentine's Day Drop
    By Mary Westbrook
    More than half of florists say 2015 December holiday sales were higher than 2014 returns.

    Among the 54 percent who saw an uptick, the increase was modest but noticeable. Thirty percent of respondents to a Society of American Florists (SAF) post-holiday survey said they experienced an increase between 1 and 5 percent. Twenty-two percent of respondents said the increase was between 6 and 10 percent and 10 percent classified it as between 11 and 15 percent.

    Here’s an in-depth look at some of the returns from SAF’s December Holidays survey. See “February 14: Tempered Expectations” for the industry’s take on the prospects for the 2016 holiday, which falls on a Sunday.

    December Holidays: Mostly Jolly
    Source: SAF 2015 Holiday Sales and 2016 Valentine’s Intentions Survey. Emailed Jan. 4. 8.7 percent response rate.

    While 54 percent of overall respondents reported an increase in December holiday sales, the rosy results weren’t universal. A quarter of respondents reported a decrease and 20 percent said sales were flat.

    Some variation seems to exist depending on business size:
    • Businesses with less than $300,000 in annual sales: 54 percent saw an increase, 29 percent saw a decrease and 15 percent saw flat sales.

    • $300,000 to $499,999 in annual sales: 53 percent saw an increase, 24 percent saw flat sales and 24 percent saw a drop.

    • $500,000 to $999,999 in annual sales: 53 percent saw an increase, a quarter saw flat sales and 23 percent saw a decrease.

    • $1 million-plus in annual sales: 63 percent saw an increase, 23 percent saw a drop and 13 percent said sales were flat.
    The location of each business also affected responses: 56 percent of self-described urban shops saw an increase in sales, which was about on par with the 57 percent of suburban shops who noted similar positive results. Meanwhile, 52 percent of small town shops and 50 percent of rural shops reported an increase.

    Factors Behind Increases

    Those who saw an increase credited the weather (29 percent); higher price points (28 percent); regional economies (26 percent); fewer competing flower shops (25 percent); increased shop promotions (18 percent); more event/party work (18 percent); more corporate business (15 percent); expanded territory or new location (11 percent) and higher delivery charges (6 percent), among other factors.

    About half of respondents who saw an increase saw a rise in phone sales; 49 percent saw an uptick in website orders and 44 percent saw gains in walk-in sales. Meanwhile, 22 percent saw increased wire-in orders and 18 percent saw improvement in giftware sales. 11 percent saw increases in wire-out orders.

    Source: SAF 2015 Holiday Sales and 2016 Valentine’s Intentions Survey. Emailed Jan. 4. 8.7 percent response rate.

    Reasons for Drop-Offs

    Among those who saw a drop in sales, 56 percent said they weren’t sure by how much sales tapered off, and 17 percent said the decrease was between 1 and 5 percent; 14 percent classified it as 6 to 10 percent and about 13 percent said it was 11 percent or higher.

    Respondents who saw decreased sales blamed a lack of corporate business (23 percent); regional economies (21 percent); competition from order-gatherers (20 percent); less party and event work (19 percent) competition from non-floral vendors (18 percent) and mass marketers and supermarkets (14 percent); unfavorable weather (14 percent); and lower price points (5 percent). Only 5 percent listed competition from other florists or street vendors as a factor.

    42 percent of respondents who saw a drop-off said wire-in sales decreased; 35 percent said wire-out orders declined and 31 percent said phone orders were down. About 27 percent said walk-in sales dropped and 21 percent said website sales declined. Roughly 17 percent said giftware sales were down.

    The Big Push: Promotions and Outreach
    Among all respondents, the following mediums proved popular ways to promote the December holidays: social media (80 percent); store signage (67 percent); online ads (62 percent); email promos (55 percent); print ads (49 percent); direct mail (34 percent); radio ads (24 percent); outdoor ads (22 percent); PR/media interviews (8 percent); and TV ads (6 percent).

    In write-in responses, several respondents credited strong visual merchandising, in the form of stand-out window displays, signage and outdoor lights.

    Compared to last year, 56 percent of respondents said promotions stayed about the same. About 36 percent said they increased their efforts and 5 percent scaled back.

    Sales Breakdown
    Source: SAF 2015 Holiday Sales and 2016 Valentine’s Intentions Survey. Emailed Jan. 4. 8.7 percent response rate.

    The average sale for the holiday, according to all respondents, was about $67.

    About 26 percent of respondents said 6 to 10 percent of holiday sales came through their website. Another 20 percent said 11 to 15 percent of sales came through the site; 19 percent placed the number at 1 to 5 percent; 14 percent said 21 percent or more and 11 percent said it was 16 to 20 percent.

    Fifty-three percent of respondents did not offer holiday décor services. Among those who did, 54 percent said the segment stayed the same and 31 percent saw an increase. Fifteen percent said their décor business dropped.

    Only 39 percent of respondents held a holiday themed open house in 2015. About half of respondents ran an after Christmas sale. (According to write-in sales, the vast majority of these sales involved slashed prices of 50 percent off or more.)

    Hours and Staffing
    Sixty percent of respondents were open at least part of the day on Christmas Eve and 35 percent were open all day. Ninety-eight percent were closed on Christmas Day. Fifty-six percent were open part of the day on New Year’s Eve Day and 39 percent were open all day. Ninety-five percent were closed on New Year’s Day.

    Forty-five percent of respondents did not hire additional staff and 18 percent brought on only one person; 15 percent hired two. Ten percent hired three and about 9 percent brought in a team of four to six.

    Poinsettia Sales Trends

    Source: SAF 2015 Holiday Sales and 2016 Valentine’s Intentions Survey. Emailed Jan. 4. 8.7 percent response rate.

    Roughly 43 percent of all respondents said 2015 poinsettia sales were flat, compared to 2014. Nearly 40 percent said they were down and 16 percent said they were up. (About 1 percent reported not selling the popular Christmas plant.)

    Most respondents who saw an increase in poinsettia sales, 37 percent, said the increase was between 1 and 10 percent. Among those who saw a drop, about 40 percent said the decline was between 1 and 10 percent. Almost 90 percent of respondents said at least 21 percent of poinsettias sold were traditional red plants.

    When respondents were asked to consider a five-year trend of poinsettia sales, 43 percent said sales have been decreasing and about 30 percent said they’ve been flat. About 15 percent called them “irregular/fluctuating” and 7 percent said they’ve seen growth. (Five percent said they weren’t sure how sales had been trending.)

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    Business Consulting and Floral Accounting!

    Florists are always complaining to us that they have had to teach their accountants how to account for their business. We are a full service accounting firm that has specialized in the florist industry for 30 years. We developed our Floral Analysis Program™ to help our florist make more money. MORE

    February 14: Tempered Expectations
    By Mary Westbrook
    Source: SAF 2015 Holiday Sales and 2016 Valentine’s Intentions Survey. Emailed Jan. 4. 8.7 percent response rate.

    Next month, Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday — historically, a low-performing day for the holiday — and a holiday weekend.

    That positioning pits florists against all the usual competitors (inside of the industry and outside of it) and makes the idea of a romantic get-away all the more appealing to some consumers.

    Florists responding to the SAF December 2015 Holidays and 2016 Valentine’s Intentions survey seem to be preparing for a drop-off in sales compared to last year (when the holiday fell on a Saturday). Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they expect a decrease in Valentine’s Day sales this year. About 21 percent are planning for flat sales. Only 6 percent predict an increase. (The last time the holiday fell on a Sunday, in 2010, nearly 60 percent of surveyed florists reported a drop in sales.)

    Among shops with less than $300,000 in annual sales, 54 percent expect a decline in 2016 Valentine’s Day sales and 20 percent said sales will likely be flat. About 12 percent predict an increase. Looking at the info in more detail:
    • For shops with $300,000 to $499,999 in annual sales, 69 percent predict a decline and 27 percent said sales will be flat. No one in this group predicted an increase.

    • Among shops with $500,000 to $999,999 in annual sales, 80 percent predict a decrease, 18 percent said they should see fat sales and only 2 percent predict an increase.

    • For shops with $1 million plus in annual sales, three quarters predict a decline, 17 percent said sales will be the same and 8 percent expect an increase.
    When asked to self-identify their location, suburban shop owners seem slightly more pessimistic than their counterparts in smaller and larger areas: 74 percent of those respondents are planning for a decrease, compared to 65 percent of urban respondents, 66 percent of small town respondents and 58 percent of rural respondents.

    Other highlights from the Valentine’s Day portion of the survey:
    • 64 percent said they’ll incorporate the idea that the gift of flowers can be a “kick off” to the long weekend in marketing materials.

    • 61 percent of respondents are pre-booking less fresh product. About 30 percent said they’ll pre-book the same amount and 9 percent said they’ll increase their order.

    • 56 percent said they’ll offer early delivery incentives; 52 percent said they’ll have early ordering deals.
    On average respondents plan to charge $85 for one dozen long stemmed arranged roses and $65 for a dozen unarranged. This is in keeping with results from 2015, when respondents to a post-holiday survey reported charging on average $84 for a dozen arranged long-stem Valentine’s Day roses and nearly $67 for a dozen unarranged long-stem roses. Overall, the average purchase amount per transaction on Valentine’s Day last year was about $72.

    Nervous about the Sunday event this year? Don’t give up without a fight. SAF members have tons of resources available to them at, including web banners and social media graphics, planning tools and tips and best practices for scoring high profile media placement in the run-up to the holiday.

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    Schaffer, Kratt Dig into Trend Details for Floral Management
    By Katie Hendrick

    Trend forecasters Kristine Kratt, AIFD, PFCI, and Bill Schaffer, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, the husband and wife team behind the 2016 Flower Trends Forecast dig into the details of their trends in this month’s issue of Floral Management. The talented duo opened up about their latest research, which amounted to more than 1,000 hours and involved visits to flower shops, wholesale houses, gift and decorative accessories shows, flower farms and product manufacturers in cities such as Paris, Shanghai, San Francisco, San Antonio, Chicago and Atlanta. They amalgamated their findings into four distinct themes or "stories"— Lavish, Lustre, Festival and Sorbet — each breathtaking in its own way. Find photos, descriptions and suggestions for replication in "2016 Flower Trends Forecast." Check it out here.

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    WF&FSA President Talks Challenges, Successes and Industry Shifts
    By Mary Westbrook

    WF&FSA President Rob Shibata says that staying in tune with what makes the organization relevant to its members is critical to the organization’s continued success.

    “We’re still here.”

    When Rob Shibata assumed the presidency of the Wholesale Florist & Florist Supplier Association on Oct. 22, he returned several times to those three words. His message? The floral industry, and wholesalers in particular, have been through a tremendous amount of change in recent years, but the businesses left standing are tougher and better for those challenging times.

    “As a group, we are a tough, resilient, innovative, hard-working, adaptable, industry,” said Shibata, the president of Mt. Eden Floral Supply in San Jose, California, to the crowd of 780 people gathered in Miami for WF&FSA’s annual Floral Distribution Conference. “We’ve had to change as business people, and we’ve had to change as an industry. And do you know what? We’re all still here. And not only are we still here, but we are moving into the future as companies. he companies that I know are pushing into the future.

    In taking on the one-year term as president, Shibata followed in the footsteps of his father, Yoshimi “Shimi” Shibata, who headed WF&FSA 43 years earlier. (Shimi died on Oct. 31, 2015, just after the 2015 WF&FSA Annual Meeting.) Three months into his term, and with the New Year ahead of WF&FSA, we asked Shibata to return to some of the points he addressed in his speech in Miami last October, elaborating on challenges and the opportunities that are ahead of the organization and the industry, including the need for more education and outreach to younger generations.
       Read more.

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    In Loving Memory Wind Chimes

    In Loving Memory wind chimes are each engraved with an inspirational verse. Available in Silver or Bronze, these memorial chimes are available with single chime display stands that may also support floral arrangements.

    Why the U.S. Economy Could Keep Growing Until 2020
    It's a scary time for the global economy. All of a sudden the doom-and-gloom crowd has lots to crow about: China is suffering a scary slowdown, Latin America is imploding and geopolitical threats are on the rise. And the U.S. stock market is off to its worst start to a year. Ever.   Read more.

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    Pennsylvania Florist Capitalizes on New Year's Resolutions
    By Katie Hendrick

    When residents of West Chester, Pennsylvania hit the gym this week, the first thing they saw was a beautiful flower arrangement by Kati Mac Floral Designs.

    Raise your hand if you've vowed to shed a few pounds in 2016. (Editorial aside: me too!)

    Cognizant that weight loss dominates the field of New Year's resolutions, Allison Benford Barto, owner of Kati Mac Floral Designs in West Chester, Pennsylvania, went where the masses (no pun intended) are: the gym.

    On Monday, January 4, Barto and staff made six arrangements to go to local health clubs, choosing flowers that matched each company's colors. When they delivered the flowers, employees spent a few minutes introducing themselves to the general manager.

    "We let them know who we are, where we're located and let them know that we do everything—everyday designs, weddings, funerals, and corporate occasions," Barto said.

    The flowers sat on each gym's front desk aside a stack of business cards and a personalized note that offered free delivery for one arrangement for anyone who mentions the gym's name when they place the order.

    Barto described the promotion "as a quick and inexpensive way to get a lot of good exposure." One gym, for instance, had eight people waiting to sign in when she delivered the goods; another gained 370 new members in that one day.

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    Florist Websites Built With Care

    Thousands of customers will see your website, but never visit your shop. What does your website say about you? Stand out today with custom design!

    South Carolina Shop Petals it Forward at Anniversary Party
    By Katie Hendrick

    Manny and Clara Gonzales, owners of Tiger Lily Florist in Charleston, South Carolina, used the shop's milestone—20 years in business—as an opportunity to celebrate and connect with customers.

    Tiger Lily Florist in Charleston, South Carolina, turned 20 this week and owners Manny and Clara Gonzales have invited customers to celebrate the milestone with them.

    In a feature article on Tiger Lily's history, The Post and Courier announced the Jan. 8 festivities, which included free champagne, cake, organic cotton candy, door prizes and a second installment of #PetalItForward.

    Like many SAF members, Tiger Lily participated in the nationwide flower giveaway in October and watched the emotional reactions of people unexpectedly receiving flowers and the joy that accompanies giving them to others.

    "It was a great reminder for us as to the power of flowers," said Manny Gonzales. Eager to replicate those feel-good feelings — which many locals shared online — the Gonzaleses decided to make the charitable event the cornerstone of the anniversary party and give away two bunches of flowers to each attendee, one to keep and one to give away.

    "It's resonating with folks much more than a message like, 'Come in for a 20 percent discount,' and this time, they're coming to us instead of us hitting the streets," he said. "We want a traffic jam in front of our store."

    At press time, Gonzales anticipated the shop would get 100 to 150 guests. The intent of the event, he said, is to thank customers for keeping them in business. He'd also like to get at least 50 good social media posts from guests to circulate for a couple of days.

    "Hopefully people will appreciate the 20 years and our generosity and remember it with Valentine's Day around the corner," he said.

    To hype the anniversary, Clara Gonzales created a short video using an app called Animoto, and changed the shop's cover picture on Facebook to read, "Celebrate 20 Years with us on January 8."

    Manny Gonzales pitched the story to local business writer Warren Wise, whom he met a year ago for a story about the value of Tiger Lily's building. "We were candid and gave him good info — no corporate speak," Gonzales said. "Then, stealing a tip from (former SAF president) Shirley Lyons, we built a relationship and kept it going. I ran into him at a hotel opening in October and made sure I said hello and complimented some of his recent articles." Consequently, within an hour of receiving Gonzales' latest press release in late December, Warren wrote and published an article. The story ran in print Thursday, January 7, the day before the party.

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    5 Steps To Building A Pop-Up Email Strategy That Won't Annoy Readers
    You’ve done the work to create great content and have readers visiting your website, but now it’s time to take your marketing to the next level. It’s time to jumpstart your email marketing strategy. You hear it again and again that building an email list is the most important aspect of content marketing, as it helps create a more direct channel to your audience through which you can share discounts, promotions or premium content.   Read more.

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    What You Need to Know About Making Money in 2016
    If there's one entrepreneurial topic that's difficult to generalize about, it's business models. What applies to a local restaurant--and the way it makes money--doesn't necessarily apply to an auto manufacturer or a software-as-a-service startup. But in 2016, there's a way that most business models are potentially connected.    Read more.

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    10 Absolutely Gorgeous Winter Wedding Bouquets
    Colin Cowie Weddings
    The frostier months provide all sorts of winter wonderland wedding day inspiration. Your bridal bouquet included! From rich colors to unique textures, there's so much beauty that the season has to offer. Take a look at our favorite floral arrangements for a wintry celebration.    Read more.

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    Symbolic Meanings of Wedding Flowers
    The Knot
    So roses mean love, tulips mean passion. Want more? Consult The Knot's A-Z guide to the symbolic meaning of flowers.   Read more.

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    Nominate a Floral Super Star for an Industry Award

    Awards season kicked off Sunday with the Golden Globes. Though the floral industry's night of recognition is still months away, the deadline for nominations (March 1) is rapidly approaching.

    Do you know any unsung heroes whose contributions should be in the spotlight? Maybe you deserve an accolade yourself. (Don’t be shy!) SAF recognizes the industry's best and brightest with a wide range of honors acknowledging their hard work and dedication to the floral industry. Their contributions will be celebrated during The Stars of the Industry Awards Dinner at SAF Maui 2016. Click here to learn to learn about the various honors.

    Email or call (800) 336-4743 to make your nominations.

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    SAF’s 1-Day Profit Blast
    February 27, 2016
    Austin, Texas
    Conference hotel: Hilton Garden Inn Austin Downtown

    36th Annual Congressional Action Days 2016
    March 14-15, 2016
    Washington, D.C.
    Conference hotel: Ritz Carlton Pentagon City, Arlington, Virginia

    SAF Maui 2016 – 132nd Annual Convention
    September 21-24, 2016
    Maui, HI
    Conference hotel: Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Hawaii

    37th Annual Congressional Action Days 2017
    March 13-14, 2017
    Washington, D.C.
    Conference hotel: Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, Arlington, Virginia


    Valentine's Day Playbook
    By Katie Hendrick

    Want your team to look as sharp as the Alabama Crimson Tide did Monday night? You, too, can experience victory, if you prepare with The Valentine’s Day Playbook. This must-read manual features buying guides, task lists, employee-recruiting tips, delivery strategies and insider advice from your peers. Chock full of practical ideas, the Playbook is designed to get you in shape pronto for the upcoming holiday, but you can apply its advice to other events throughout the year, including Mother’s Day and weddings. Click here to order a copy now.

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