‘The floral world has more questions than answers’

MIAMI, USA: Our man in the United States, William Armellini from sister publication FlowersandCents, sampled sentiments among retail florists, floral importers in the U.S. and a rose grower from Ecuador.

It is too early to predict the Mother’s Day outcome but it appears that many floral companies plan to reopen May 1 in anticipation of a holiday to come.

A retail florist notes, “Things are going fairly well. Like other shops, we’ve had to adapt of course, but we were pleasantly surprised by Easter and expect a sizable Mother’s Day equal or greater than last year but staffing is the biggest problem right now. Web sales and deliveries are obviously way up because of people being at home. We continue to try to pivot and provide additional offerings and discounts to encourage sales but we are hanging in there and hoping thing get back to normal fairly soon. Expect a fairly slow summer as usual in the industry but that will be the time to continue to be creative. Have no idea what Administrative Professionals Day will be like but we’ll see.”

A floral importer adds, “We are actually staying busy here, although sales volume is definitely down due to the stoppage of the event industry. We were fortunate to receive some government stimulus money to offset our losses. We are now looking forward to Mother’s Day. We are budgeting for holiday sales to be down 40 per cent, but we are hoping for only around 25 per cent – 30 per cent. We are definitely getting more market share as some wholesalers have shut down or have limited their services.”

Nearly everyone Armellini spoke to have concerns about extending credit. There will likely be some casualties at all levels and no one wants to get caught holding large receivables.

Growers are having a hard time of course and are focusing on keeping plants healthy and trying to maintain their employees. One Ecuadorean Grower comments, “Today floral world to me has more questions than answers. I believe we have to prepare for some hard years to come. When we leave the quarantine and life comes back to ‘normal’ everyone will be affected by the economic crisis. Roses are not a priority item to buy. So the only way to keep them in demand is making them affordable for the new family budgets. The first tough question comes here, are we prepared to produce at a way different price level? In countries like Ecuador it will be hard. Labour cost are very inflexible and the add to more than 50 per cent of total cost. Another factor to bear in mind is the production areas that might close. Companies that were struggling before the crisis, have no way to survive. That means at the end there will be a contraction of the supply which could help prices a bit. Now we are in a small dream, for Mother’s Day has created some demand. But dreams don’t last forever and in May 11th we have to face reality again. But I still believe that there will be a future for companies that can adjust and survive.”

Armellini concludes by highlighting the gut-wrenching decisions – staying open or closing –  that everyone had to make and hopes they have been  the right for each individual company. “Only time will tell. The government is sprinkling money down the distribution chain and that should help companies weather this storm but I fear some will not make it. Just heard that HOSA International a large old and well established Importer in Miami is closing forever.

This same struggle is happening all over the US and the world. Everyone wants to get back to normal now but the risk is real. This should not be a political issue but it is and it is not helping the situation.”

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