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    FRESH FLORAL TRENDS: <br />Retailers Hoping Mother&#8217;s Day Flower Power Lifts Wilted Sales

    Most any mom will back me up here: When it comes to Mother’s Day, the most treasured keepsakes are neither fancy nor expensive, but the ones given from the heart, such as a priceless painted pasta necklace, a tissue paper flower garden adorned with a crayon-scrawled message -- “Thank you for helping me grow!” – and my all-time prize-possession: the Kindergarten-era self-portrait of my now 11-year-old son and I standing in the foreground of a big, bright yellow sunshine underneath a flock of disproportionately small, V-shaped objects that curiously resemble a gaggle of swarming black crows.

    Most any mom will back me up here: When it comes to Mother’s Day, the most treasured keepsakes are neither fancy nor expensive, but the ones given from the heart, such as a priceless painted pasta necklace, a tissue paper flower garden adorned with a crayon-scrawled message -- “Thank you for helping me grow!” – and my all-time prize-possession: the Kindergarten-era self-portrait of my now 11-year-old son and I standing in the foreground of a big, bright yellow sunshine underneath a flock of disproportionately small, V-shaped objects that curiously resemble a gaggle of swarming black crows.
     
    Inasmuch as we cherish our kids endearing handmade treasures, though, most any mom will also readily acknowledge that a festive, inexpensive bouquet of flowers can go a long way in sealing the Mother’s Day deal for dear old dad, who might otherwise haplessly detect a distinct chill in the air during the course of an otherwise lovely day (don’t ask me how I know this).
     
    So it goes without saying that for an industry that’s been woefully overlooked – if not patently avoided – during a trying and tumultuous economic cycle, the floral industry is hoping to cultivate record-breaking floral sales this weekend, which is projected to generate some $2 billion in sales among the 67 percent of people planning to purchase fresh flowers for Mother’s Day, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2009 Mother’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey conducted by BIGresearch.

    “Retailers understand that people are on strict budgets, even for important holidays,” relays NRF’s president and CEO, Tracy Mullin, who predicts that budget-friendly gifts from discount stores will fetch the highest Mother’s Day returns. “No one will forgo celebrating Mother’s Day because of the bad economy, but they will put careful thought into what they buy and how much they spend,” adds BIGresearch EVP Phil Rist. “Moms will understand that kids may be spending on a budget, so inexpensive, personal gifts will go a long way.”
     
    In addition to Mother’s Day’s standing as one of the single biggest days of the year for floral sales, the home gardening trend that’s decidedly on the rise this year is another encouraging trend, according to Mary Oldham of San Francisco-based Nurserymen's Exchange/Bloomrite. A presstime update from Oldham finds her “very optimistic about sales for Mother’s Day and beyond, and we hope the trend continues.”
     
    As one of America’s largest indoor plant, tropical foliage and decorative accessory wholesalers, Oldham shares a general observation about recent retail floral trends. “Valentine's Day was somewhat soft, and Easter a little better, and Mother’s Day is definitely showing a noticeable upswing -- but not perfect by any means, which seems to be typical in many channels these days and not just in floral.”
     
    A handy trick Oldham offers to offset potentially disappointing floral fortunes can be found in “a balanced product line with broad, cross-channel appeal with an emphasis on plants as home décor decorative accessories -- especially for supermarkets.” To that end, Oldham says a selection of Bloomrite’s signature crops like Miniature Roses, Campanula, Modern Classic Tropicals and Lilies, have all been especially well received by its grocery customers.
     
    “Floral is still a discretionary purchase for the most part,” adds Oldham, who notes that it’s thus imperative that retailers have “merchandising solutions that provide a unique combination of products that stimulates sales.”
     
    Parting Thought: Hot on that trail is Greensboro, N.C.-based The Fresh Market, which began shipping roses from its online market at www.thefreshmarket.com. Long recognized for its high quality/low priced roses, the 87-store specialty grocer offers six different all-rose bouquets priced at a fee-free $39.99 for one dozen or $59.99 for two dozen. The Fresh Market also added two signature mixed bouquets to its online market, including the TFM Especially for Mom Bouquet (www.thefreshmarket.com/online-market/detail.aspx?ID=1719)  ($49.99) and the stylish and fragrant TFM Mom is Always Right Bouquet (www.thefreshmarket.com/online-market/detail.aspx?ID=1707)  ($44.99). In addition to roses and bouquets, the chain also offers a wide selection of specialty food and gift items, including an extensive selection of the company’s own TFM-branded products. 

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