Flower Selling: Recession Masks Market Shift, or Maybe It's Martha's Fault
Will Valentine's Day save the florists? They certainly need saving, but their problem is much bigger than another bum Valentine's Day.
The industry magazine Florists' Review's January edition, cites market statistics showing a major decline in retail florists' (brick and mortar shops) market share, from 61.2% in 2000 to 39.9% in 2008. Retail florists have been going out of business and the surviving shops have not been picking up their customers.
So, who got the business? Florists' Review statistics show that supermarket florists took most of it — increasing from 20.6% in 2000 to 32.0% in 2008. The rest went to the internet, rising from 3.5% in 2000 to 10.0% in 2008.
More bad news for retail florists: there is less business overall (Florists' Review blames the recession), and the average price per transaction has gone down — I blame Martha Stewart. Martha's "how-to" approach on TV, in print, and even on the radio, taught flower buyers how to place a bunch of flowers (usually all of one kind) in a simple vase. Voila! Les fleurs!
Martha Stewart Flowers sold flowers and vases below the pricing of retail florists' mixed bouquets. More importantly, Martha made it OK, even smart to show this simplicity at your dinner table. Eventually, the smart ones figured out that they didn't have to order flowers from Martha — they could just go to the grocery store, buy a bunch, take them home, and put them into a vase — making it cheaper and easier.
This change in our flower buying culture also changed the flower selling market. In fact, it changed it so completely by running down the pricing, that last year Martha Stewart Flowers ceased retail operation and licensed its brand to 1-800-Flowers.
The nation-wide flower marketing networks such as 1-800-Flowers, FTD and others, need to rely upon retail florists in each delivery area to fulfill orders.Each year there are fewer retail florists. Worse, declining pricing makes wire service business less profitable.
Florists' Review counsels its surviving readership of florists to improve their value proposition, show prospective new buyers how they can enrich their lives by offering convenience and expertise. A nice way of saying, go upscale. But they can't ALL go upscale, that won't work.
So, perhaps the answer is: buy a grocery store.