A return to retail

Despite Super Bowl preparations and chilly temperatures, customers made in-store purchases for mixed bouquets, houseplants, small gifts and more.


Photos courtesy of Klein's
Floral & Greenhouses

As the Omicron wave continues to drop across the U.S., garden centers reported steady Valentine’s Day sales this year. In addition, in-person purchases seemed to be higher compared to the previous two years.

Projected data from the National Retail Federation’s 2022 Valentine's Day Spending Survey estimated a total of $23.9 billion in sales and according to the survey’s gift trends, 37% of consumers planned on buying flowers in 2020. That number dropped by 1% in 2021 but gained the percentage point back this year, according to the data.

Shoppers this Valentine’s Day had money to spend and, as always, flowers (and other plants) were at the top of the list as consumers hit the garden center in search of gifts. Garden Center magazine checked in with three retailers to learn what trends and insights influenced this year’s holiday.

Supply chain

While rose and other supply chain shortages were expected to hit the industry hard, Sue Klein, owner of Klein’s Floral & Greenhouses in Madison, Wisconsin, says her business fared just fine.

“We were kind of worried that we weren’t going to get our vases in on time, but in the end we got everything that we wanted. Same thing with some flowers. We're lucky that we have three different suppliers that we can use and count on, so if it wasn't available from one, it was typically available from another one,” she says.

Kara Prebish, floral manager at Breezewood Garden & Gifts in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, says her IGC didn’t experience any significant shortages, but floral prices were much higher this year.

According to Prebish, cut flowers weren’t hard to get; they were just costly. However, she says that, while rose prices were much higher than usual, Breezewood didn’t sell them at the full market price.

“Our rose dozen should have been about $165, (with a vase included) but we didn’t do our full markup. We just met somewhere in the middle so we could help them, but still make a profit,” Prebish says.

She also says that glassware and Oasis Floral Foam were more complicated than usual to procure, but luckily Breezewood had stocked up during the Christmas season in preparation for Valentine’s Day.

Jill Barczak, operations manager at Blumen Gardens in Sycamore, Illinois, says they experienced shipment delays ahead of the holiday, but nothing too extreme. Blumen Gardens doesn’t sell fresh-cut flowers, but they offer succulent and houseplant arrangements for Valentine’s Day.

“It wasn’t crazy, but everything that was supposed to arrive the first week of February came in around the fifth or seventh. So, it was a little bit late for some things, but we had gotten in so many shipments prior that were fine,” she says.

Photo courtesy of Blumen Gardens

Foot traffic

All three garden centers noted steady foot traffic throughout the weekend and the holiday itself. Considering Valentine’s Day fell on the Monday after the Super Bowl, Prebish says Monday was a busy walkthrough day.

“People weren’t totally thinking about Valentine’s Day beforehand. They were planning for a Super Bowl party instead,” she laughs. “I think they all woke up the next morning and went, ‘Uh-oh I'm in trouble!’”

Prebish also observes that deliveries were slightly down by about 10-12 orders, and pickup orders were slightly up, something she attributes to last-minute planning on the customers’ ends.

Klein says it helped that the holiday fell on a Monday this year because they IGC accomplished a lot of prep work during the weekend. Also, it helped that the weather was above zero.

“I don't remember exactly what the temperature was, but I want to say it was in the teens, which for Wisconsin, that’s not bad in February! It’s funny — I always laugh about how Valentine’s Day is the same day every year, but every year it’s as if people wait until the last minute or they forget. But we had a lot of foot traffic on Sunday,” Klein says.

Big sales

For Breezewood, the last two years pulled in some of their biggest Valentine’s Day sales. Although this year’s sales were at a breakeven, different categories were more popular. Last year, vase flowers and arranged flowers were more popular than wrapped flowers, whereas the past year it was the opposite, she says.

“I feel like people are starting to come out of their comfort zone and get out and do stuff again. There was a lot of sending of flowers over the past two years,” she says. “Now I think people are starting to kind of come back out of that and they’re going into the stores again, and into the garden centers and into the flower shops. They want to actually see what’s there now.”

For Blumen Gardens, the year’s beginning was much slower than 2021, causing some rumblings of concern. Luckily, she says, Valentine’s Day sales were impressive. Klein’s experienced a 52% sales increase compared to last year but Klein says it boiled down to two major factors: weather and day of the week.

“You have to keep in mind that last year it fell on a Sunday, which is probably the worst day of the week for a florist. We also had a -30-windchill,” she says.

Photos courtesy of Blumen Gardens

Best sellers

For Breezewood and Klein’s, mixed florals and rose bouquets are consistent Valentine’s Day best-sellers.

“We don't know if it’s because of the cost of roses, but mixed bouquets were very, very popular this year. They were the best-sellers in the floral department,” Klein says.

While Blumen Gardens is known for its houseplant and succulent arrangements, Barczak says they also offered some different Valentine’s Day products this year, which proved to be a success. Pre-made cards containing chocolate bars were trendy, as well as pink and red planters embossed with phrases like “You Grow Girl” and “Plant Lady.”

“That light, boho-color pink is really popular right now. We sold a lot of like planters that weren’t maybe Valentine’s Day specific, but more just trendy within the pink and red kind of coloring,” Barczak says.

Sharing the love

While Valentine’s Day shoppers have traditionally been men buying flowers for their partners, 2022 showed the spark of a new trend: gift-giving amongst friends and family members.

Barczak recalls a situation where one customer, whose arms were laden with bags. The customer said, “I'm buying just a little something for my five girlfriends, and I'm getting one thing for myself.”

“I did see everyone kind of just needing a little spark of joy this year and just wanting to give a little gift to friends. You know, just a little gift — nothing crazy, not breaking the bank — just an ‘I'm thinking of you’ gift, which we love seeing,” she says. “I definitely think it was a lot more grandparents or gal friends and stuff like that. So, I think it was a little less romantic and a little bit more gift-giving.”

At Breezewood, Prebish noticed more younger men buying flowers for their wives, as well as purchasing something small for their daughters.

“So, they'd do a dozen roses for their wife, but then they'd get a little $25 wrap for their daughter or something,” she says.

March 2022
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