The Flower Wizard’s Wand December 2021 Edition.
Valentines 2022 is coming
Super Bowl Sunday is Feb 13th
Christmas is now in the rear-view mirror, and we made it through better than expected. Logistics stepped up several notches and even the usual news stories of Fed Ex and UPS delays did not jam up the news waves! Please don’t get me wrong the logistic issues are still very challenging and not getting easier especially with the most recent surge in the Omicron variant. Logistics and labor shortages are still the major issues that are causing our queasy stomachs in the flower business.
Here is a summary of the life in the world of being an airline freight forwarder in the current environment
Shippers with ‘unreasonable’ expectations are causing headaches for forwarders – big and small.
Exhausted forwarders have told The Loadstar the job is currently extremely stressful, particularly in the air cargo peak, owing to quickly changing freight rates and capacity, and long delays.One air freight source at a major forwarder said shippers, unsurprisingly perhaps, were furious to find that a rate agreed previously would no longer see their freight moved in a timely fashion.
“You can’t blame the airlines,” he said. “They can make more money right now, and they need to, so they are giving capacity to a higher-payer, leaving us to tell the shippers.
“Their freight will go, but it may take two weeks or more. If they want it faster, they will have to pay the new rates. But they can’t understand it as they had booked freight at a certain rate and expect it to move on time.”
He added that even as a very large forwarder, he was losing allocations.
“It must be very hard if you are a smaller forwarder. We can use our market strength to keep some allocations, but it doesn’t feel particularly good to do so. But you may as well if you have it. You’ve got to do what you can.”
He added that the opening-up of passenger markets over the transatlantic had cut capacity significantly, as bellies were filled with suitcases instead of cargo, yet another issue to explain to shippers who had thought it would mean more, not less, capacity.
Another, normally enthusiastic, forwarder “I don’t like my day job anymore – it’s becoming a chore, and a stressful one at that.”
He said his biggest challenge was “customer expectations versus reality”.
“We are endlessly trying to fix problems – everywhere, by every mode, in every direction. It’s a right laugh,” he added, sarcastically.
Forwarders are feeling the brunt of the mismatch between demand and supply – although as most observers would point out, they are well paid for doing so. But issues such as lack of drivers and warehouse space mean they are unable to ensure freight moves smoothly.
Some have reported going to airports to physically look for their freight. One handler said the company had hired drivers to get freight off the airport and deliver directly to the forwarder, but there was no space available, and the freight had to be returned.
Shippers, meanwhile, are struggling with the concept of very high freight rates and charges, and poor service levels and delays.
With the current issue with major cancellations, schedule changes and more covid cases every day the airline freight situation will become even more of an issue. Cargo flights will become even more expensive as freight space becomes less available on passenger flights. Shortages of crews, covid protocols, and higher rates in more lucrative markets will greatly reduce capacity for a while especially for the Valentines demand.
Rising costs, logistics, labor shortages, and the continued uncertainty of the pandemic will have a tremendous influence on Valentines. Production and the normal weather issues in January and February could rear their ugly heads as well.
Pricing for Valentines will be interesting for 2022.Demand will be high based on the patterns we have seen during covid. Make sure you know your costs and are not subject to surprises in the fine print. Stick with quality and if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
As far as having the Superbowl the day before may be a good thing for the flower industry as more people may stay home Sunday to watch the game and not go to a restaurant. Ordering Valentine flowers to be delivered before the game on Saturday or Sunday may be just the right thing to keep your significant other smiling while watching the game and eating wings and nachos.
To recap 2021 was an interesting and profitable year for the floral industry despite all the challenges. One industry expert of over 30 years told me he has dealt with more crazy things in the last year than in all 30 plus prior years.
2022 has the makings to be a great year with all the potential for a good economy combined with more weddings scheduled than ever. The key question is how will the buying public deal with the increased pricing of floral products! Stay tuned!!!!
Thanks, Happy New Year, and to a great 2022
The Wizard and the Above All Flowers and New Bloom Solutions Team