Valentine’s Day 2016 Review.
Now that the holiday is behind us it is good to look back to see what we can learn or what was missed.
After talking to many industry players from growers to retailers there were some common problems but not all had the same results.
From the growers end there were lots of challenges. The El Nino effect made itself evident in many ways. Warmer than normal weather pushed the crops to mature faster and the results were really difficult for Ecuadorean growers. For many their crop peaked early and added extra production into the marketplace disrupting the supply and demand equation.
On the other hand Colombia’s production was more or less on time but the warm weather created more production than planned. The roses grew faster but not taller resulting in shorter stem and less long stem roses.
California’s production was compromised by wet weather two weeks before the holiday followed by warmer than average temperatures during the days leading up to the holiday.
The quality of flowers, by most accounts, appeared to be very high. That is good news for consumers for whom we all rely.
Transportation was not an issue, planes flew on time and despite the cold weather truck also ran on time.
Retailers reported that sales were flat compared to last year but lots of product was sold. Many reported that sales on Monday (15th) were better than Sunday.
It was very cold in the NE with sub-zero temperatures and that no doubt affected sales.
Wholesalers were caught in the middle trying to manage the results of over production in the market. Pre-books were hard to get or none existent.
I do have any empirical data regarding mass market sales but they tend to do well when last minute sales are needed.
By most accounts overall sales were flat and margins were down but lots of flowers were sold and quality was good.
So Valentines 2016 appeared to be the perfect storm for flowers and thankfully we are not likely to see this again for many years to come. El Nino, Sunday holiday, election year, stock market down and no doubt some regional issues.
It certainly appears that there is too much production for the markets to absorb and perhaps taste are changing. Red roses and roses in general are not the symbol that they once were. There are so many beautiful roses that are not red which have been gaining in popularity. As well there are many other products that are helping to change people taste. Just look at the explosive sales of hydrangea, callas and gerberas. With that said I do not imagine that Red Roses will be replaced as the flower of choice for Valentine’s Day any time soon.
I also suspect that we have confused the consumers as to what Roses are really worth. There are so many prices offered and the gaps are often large. I understand the value difference between a bunch from a bucket and a bunch from a florist, but does the consumer?
In conclusion I think this holiday was good for consumers and perhaps not so good for those in the business. Maybe a holiday that we should try to forget and look forward to Woman’s Day, Easter, Mothers Day and most importantly everyday sales which help everyone.
I was happy to receive this memo below from WFFSA, very timely!
VALENTINE’S DAY 2016 – NOT ONE FOR THE RECORD BOOKS
“A Sunday holiday…”
“Extremely cold temperatures in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast…”
“Flower production exceeded demand…”
WF&FSA members cited these as the main reasons this year’s Valentine’s Day holiday was not one for the record books. In the annual survey of members following the holiday, 46% of responding members reported that this holiday was pretty much what they expected it would be, while 36% reported the holiday did not meet their expectations; yet 18% had a better holiday than expected. Additional highlights include:
Cut Flower Sales Dollars- Cut flower sales dollars were generally down compared with 2015 while 8% reported sales were flat and 29% saw cut flower sales increase.
Pre-Rose Book Quantities – The majority of respondents, 37%, reported that rose pre-book quantities were worse than expected, while 29% reported that pre-book quantities were comparable with 2015.
Rose Prices – Survey results also showed that rose prices were generally down or flat compared with last year.
Inventory Levels – More than 16% reported they had a lot of product left, while 43% reported product was not nearly sold out and 38% reported they were nearly sold out.
Credit Requests – A majority, 53%, reported that credit requests were few to none, while 42% reported a normal number of credits.
Looking ahead to what one might do different next year, respondents reported:
• Pre-book less with growers and buy as we need.
• Try to pre-sell more, earlier.
• Watch the market closer.
• Improve labor efficiency.
• Keep less inventory on hand.
Members noted that orders were coming in last minute and that it will be a challenge to plan for next year going from a Sunday to a Tuesday holiday. Speculating what will be hot from year to year is becoming increasingly difficult.
To view the full graphical representation of results, including which products sold more or less units, click here.
PATRICIA A. LILLY, WF&FSA
Flower photos courtesy of Diego Botero, Flower Gallery