This year's holiday season will be different for the floral industry. Let's start with the fall.
Autumn is, undoubtedly, the most gorgeous season of the year. It is the season when every leaf resembles a flower. Autumn loves colors, and colors love autumn, and FLORISTS LOVE BOTH!!
The Fall season offers a unique variety of floral foliage in a vast array of colors ranging from oranges to yellows, to greens to earthy hues. It also provides florists with an opportunity to use unusual embellishments like feathers, stick butterflies, fruits and vegetables to create elaborate arrangements and Fall wreaths. Florists absolutely love working with the colors and textures of the Fall season to create beautiful designs. A simple pumpkin transforms into an amazing decoration for Fall and Halloween themes around the consumer’s home and office spaces. Around their homes, they enjoy the radiance, warmth, and joy these colors and textures bring to them during the shorter days and cooler nights.
Unfortunately, this Fall season will be slightly different from those of the past. Although Autumn will still have all the same charms as in previous years, florists will have fewer choices, when it comes to floral colors and floral varieties, available to offer their customers. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the floricultural industry has been forced to move to a new reality, as all of us have had to do.
Every flower purchased by a florist has taken an enormous journey. They are picked one day at some flower producing region, either local or abroad, then transported to distributors and wholesalers to be sold to the florists, and then, ultimately, is sold to the consumer.
Typically, consumers purchase flowers for special occasions, to decorate and enlighten their homes and workspaces, or to gift to their loved ones to convey special feelings. Travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic, have caused consumers to stay home, work from home, and avoid mixing with other family members and friends. So what better way to let others know that they are thinking of them, than to send them flowers? Thankfully, this has given the floral industry a boost in sales, as more and more consumers have picked up the phone, or gone online, and placed orders to send flowers to those they love and care about.
Floral industry sales took a downturn in the first half of 2020 due to the pandemic. We are currently experiencing a strong recovery in the flower sector, however, as each county across America is in a different recovery phase regarding the pandemic, the high demand for flowers is creating various challenges to growers, importers, shippers, wholesalers and retailers as the entire supply chain was interrupted due to restraints caused by COVID-19.
There was negligible demand for flowers at the peak of COVID-19, due to the lockdown. Fewer flights and increasing freight costs made it very expensive to ship flowers. Many growers were unable to manage their plants due to the increased costs. This led to a shortage of flowers in the marketplace. It will take time to replenish the normal supply of flowers. Delays in planting, materials, supplies, and the uncertainty related to demands, has forced the industry to make changes in planting schedules and quantities planted. This has brought about a decrease in the supply of flowers and the absence of many varieties and colors that are normally readily available.
Higher freight costs, fewer flights, and limited space make it difficult to ship flowers. As travel bans are lifted from various countries, many airlines have resumed flights. This is a huge relief to the floricultural industry.
With a decrease in the supply chain of flowers, importers are facing shortfalls in their orders and incurring higher shipping costs, which cause flowers to be too expensive to import.
Wholesalers are currently paying a premium price for their flowers. Unable to import their flowers, wholesalers are having to depend on local markets to purchase flowers. This limits the varieties and quality of flowers the wholesalers can offer to their customers.
With the cancellation of major events, i.e. weddings, social gatherings, etc., florists are experiencing unprecedented declines in sales, as this is their main source of income. E-Commerce floral websites have witnessed a shift in the demands for online floral ordering. The flower shortages are hurting these floral shops as they cannot recreate designs as shown on their websites that their customers are ordering from. In these instances, the florist will try their very best to make substitutions that will satisfy their customers and, hopefully, exceed their expectations.
Uncertainty is the only certainty at any given point in time, and this is the beauty of life. We must look beyond problems and be optimistic regarding the future. We are hopeful the upward trends continue to climb.
For the floricultural industry, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Christmas are major flower sales events. Floral sales for these events are exponentially high, and every stakeholder in the supply chain will need to work together to fulfill the high demand for flowers. Just around the corner are Halloween and Thanksgiving Day holidays. These too play an important role in the floral sales industry. Florists play a crucial role in predicting consumer preferences and demands. It is vital, especially in 2020, to plan for all of these events well in advance. Having a well thought out plan will help all the players involved in the floral supply chain to meet the demands for the end consumer.
Even though the floral industry is in the recovery stages, we still have many daily challenges to meet. One thing is certain, the floricultural industry is here to stay and will thrive against all odds!!
Written in collaboration with Shabistan Khan & New Bloom Solutions (Sahid Nahim)