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I’d like to dedicate this issue to Mothers, Mothers-in-Law, Step-Mothers, Grandmothers, Godmothers, Smother-Mothers and those who in their own way, mother others!  But, in particular, I’d like to give a shout-out to the many Mothers who work in this industry.  In spite of the long hours, nail-biting pressure, frequent travel and every single holiday-away….. you provide the most important gift to this world by planting the seeds of the future.  

insidelookapril And speaking of planting the seeds of the future, I’m so excited to share the contents of our May issue!  Of course, the first few pages are packed with Mother’s Day information — yep, it’s right around the corner! How time flies!  But we’ve also included some key information about May’s secondary holidays, which can add significant sales and profits to the month: Teachers’ Day, Nurses’ Day, Cinco de Mayo, Graduation and Memorial Day!  

Is floor-space bursting out at the seams?  Check out the latest information on pop-up shops and see some real examples! Belly laugh! That’s what you’ll do when you read Glenna’s article!  If you didn’t attend her session at last year’s IFE, then you MUST attend this year!  She had everyone out of their chairs! And of course, where would we be without our network of trade shows and trade organizations who represent us in Washington, DC, bring us insightful education, address industry challenges and provide us with a fun venue to see epic new products — all in one place! For everything they do — we are forever grateful!

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The history of Mother’s Day began with a daughter’s pursuit to honor her beloved mother.

Mother’s Day is a holiday honoring motherhood. For many, it’s a time to show love and gratitude to the women who have been mentors and caregivers; those who help shape us into who we are. Despite how it seems, card companies did not invent this holiday. So, what is the history behind Mother’s Day?

mother1 In 1858, Ann Reeves Jarvis was a social activist and community organizer who cared for wounded soldiers during the Civil War and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. These clubs also helped to teach local women how to care for their children properly.

After the American Civil War, Mother’s Day was suggested by social activist Julia Ward Howe in 1870; Howe wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” a call to action that asked mothers to unite in promoting world peace. It is a landmark in the history of Mother’s Day in the sense that it is a precursor to the modern Mother’s Day celebrations.

The Mother’s Day we know today arose in the 1900s as a result of the efforts of Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis. After her mother’s death in 1905, Jarvis’ mission was to honor her mother by continuing the work she started to set aside a day to honor mothers. Anna Jarvis organized and held a memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia on the second Sunday in May because it was the Sunday closest to her mother’s death.

The first formal Mother’s Day commemoration was marked with another service the following year May 1908 at the same church in Grafton. Jarvis had white carnations distributed to the mothers, sons, and daughters in attendance. The white carnation, her mother’s favorite flower, became the holiday’s symbol of the purity, strength, and endurance of motherhood.

While waging a relentless letter-writing campaign to drum up support for Mother’s Day, Jarvis created the Mother’s Day International Association and trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day.” By 1914, President Woodrow Wilson designated the second Sunday in May, Mother’s Day, making it an official national holiday. Jarvis was gratified by her preferred placement of the apostrophe in “Mother’s Day” — making it singular possessive, not a plural possessive so that each family would honor its one and only mother.

By the early 1920s, Mother’s Day became a national cause, but not the one Jarvis had in mind. Jarvis took great pains to focus the day on children celebrating their mothers. Jarvis believed she’d created a monster when she saw the florists, card and candy industries cashing in on Mother’s Day and felt public interest groups were using the holiday to make political statements. Jarvis endorsed open boycotts against florists who raised the prices of white carnations every May. Jarvis spent her remaining years promoting the Mother’s Day movement but was unsuccessful at thwarting what she considered commercialization of the day.

Mother’s Day continues to be celebrated by presenting mothers and other women with gifts and flowers. This day is a time to make a mother feel special. It is a day to recognize and celebrate motherhood, along with all the fantastic things mothers do for us in our lives and in society.

Melissa Jones is an experienced mass market and e-commerce buyer with over 15 years in the floriculture industry.

Flowers are discretionary goods, and the floral market is highly affected by the state of the economy, changes in production, retail competition, consumer demographics and trends, and more.

Produce Marketing Association is committed to helping the supermarket floral industry flourish. So as a go-to resource for members of the mass-market floral community, we took a fresh look at where floral is going. Below are some highlights from our recent research, and some flower food for thought.

Retail trends.

Becky Roberts 140227 4477 webBecky RobertsPMA’s “2019 Consumer Trends Impacting the Floral Industry” research indicates that the customer experience, not the channel, is driving consumer loyalty. Regardless of how consumers buy, a winning strategy for mass-market retailers is to take a customer-first approach where the experience is the primary focus.

Technology will play an increasingly stronger part in the customer experience and sales. Digital marketing, content, data, and AI-powered analytics are fusing with commerce to provide customers with a personalized experience.

According to the 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey from Boston Retail Partners, 55 percent of retailers plan to leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) for personalized customer service within three years to better the customer experience.

What’s next then? Can you envision being ready with a customer’s favorite flower in their favorite color as they enter your commerce site? If you think it will never happen, think again. That’s the advice Kevin Coupe gave buyers, produce suppliers and business solution providers at PMA’s Fresh Connections: Retail event in Philadelphia last month when discussing the ever-increasing role of technology in retail.

Coupe, who is an author, video producer, and Content Guy for, says technology and making use of data are critical for retailers to differentiate, transcend the ordinary, and create lifetime customer value. We look forward to hearing Coupe’s retail insights for the floral community at PMA Fresh Connections: Floral Miami on May 16.

Consumer trends.

The merry month of May is ripe with opportunities to sell flowers, from the predictable boon of Mother’s Day to Cinco de Mayo, Teacher Appreciation Week, spring proms, recitals, and early graduation parties.   If our industry wants to increase floral sales and make floral part of everyday life; however, we need to follow the character Ross Geller’s advice from “Friends” and PIVOT! To get consumers to think and act differently, we must think and act differently too.

Perhaps we can take a cue from local farms that sell flower subscriptions. Imagine instead of selling just one bouquet for Mother’s Day or Teacher Appreciation Day, you could sell a weekly or monthly subscription?

If you haven’t already, get the event calendar for your local district and consider promotions tailored to school events. I know one senior prom goer last year who stuck a $70 bouquet from the florist in a vase and opted instead to carry a $15 bouquet from her local retailer because the loose arrangement and colors better suited the look she had in mind.

Generation Z will be the largest consumer group by 2020, making up 40 percent of consumers in the United States, according to a Fast Company study. Retail strategies need to include wants, needs, and habits of this demographic which grew up in a digital age, is influenced by social media, and shops through social channels.

A March RetailWire article posed the question “Can Instagrammable moments turn into immediate direct sales?” In response, members of PMA’s Fresh Ideas: Produce and Floral Marketing Professionals LinkedIn group mused about whether our industry can capitalize on Instagram’s new Checkout service that will allow users to directly buy items they find on the app. We’ve got ambassadors and influencers everywhere. Let’s use them!

For example, stories abound about Millennials becoming “plant parents,” and Instagram is full of inspiration that includes images of fresh-cut flowers and plants as the crowing jewel of home décor, wedding, and couple #goals posts. Pinterest includes posts on how to make mindfulness part of everyday life — and flowers are featured prominently as an antidote to stress and source of happiness.

Apartment Therapy even featured New Year’s resolution articles about small, simple ways to turn black thumbs green and a self-help calendar of sorts titled The January Cure included a to-do list for becoming more organized, focused and mindful that included a weekly “treat yourself to flowers” call to action.

PMA will take a deeper dive into consumer, retail and economic trends at Fresh Connections: Floral Miami on May 15-16 and with a different take in Anaheim on June 6.

PMA members can also join the conversation in our Focus on Floral Facebook Community. Additional resources are available at, including research and floral sales benchmark surveys.

Without doubt, a late Easter has put an additional pressure on the performance of Mother’s Day, with only THREE weeks between the two holidays. The challenge in front of us is re-energizing each store with fresh, new and unique Mother’s Day products so that customers who purchased Easter flowers for Mom, will still be enticed to purchase another floral gift for Mom only THREE weeks later!

So, where’s a good place to start?  

MDaymerch2 Let’s start with… Purge

There’s nothing worse than a flower shop that looks like a mash-up of old Valentine, St Pat’s, Professional Admin and Easter products weeks after these holidays are over! You’ve seen it... once lively flowering plants with two wilted blooms remaining, shamrock plants adorned with smashed Easter bows and depressing mylar balloons that hover mid-air. For every old product that’s still sitting in the floral department after its selling prime, valuable space is lost for new, seasonally-relevant product that will drive sales and profits for this major holiday. Indeed, there’s a financial loss when throwing away old, outdated merchandise; however, there’s a double loss of missed revenue and reduced profit dollars when unsaleable products dominate prime real estate within the department.

Tip #1: If it’s dead, distressed, seasonally irrelevant and cannot be converted to a seasonally-relevant product, then... LET IT GO!          

Now, let’s... Convert

A quick-change of merchandise that’s still in good condition will refresh and uplift the floral department between holiday shipments. New pot covers, wraps, ribbons, balloons and pics will make everything new again, and customers who previously would have walked by these items without a second glance will now look at them with “new eyes.”

Tip #2: Ship holiday hard goods and enhancements early, so they’re available for the big conversion process from old holiday to new holiday the week following the previous holiday. The sooner all remaining in-date and saleable product is converted, the sooner those upgrade profits will be lifting that ever-so-important bottom line! Don’t forget to dig out any Mother’s Day backstock from the storage room! Mother’s Day will be the last big opportunity to sell through all remaining spring backstock.    

Order enough to build… In-Your-Face Displays!

Many people think that the Valentine holiday offers the most sales potential, but that’s NOT the case… not by a WIDE margin! Only 55 percent of the population celebrate Valentine’s Day, while a whopping 84.2 percent of the population celebrate Mother’s Day!  

But do Valentine shoppers spend more? Absolutely not! Valentine shoppers spend an average of $142, while Mother’s Day purchasers spend an average of $173. Mother’s Day in the United States is worth $21.2 billion vs. the value of Valentine sitting at $18.9 billion. So, Mother’s Day must be approached even MORE aggressively than Valentine, with a well-planned ordering budget for each store. How many $173 Mother’s Day gifts will be in your floral departments? Think about it!

Tip #3: Be fearless and aggressive when planning budgets, and order accordingly! The only way to achieve a target sales budget is to have the same retail dollar amount of merchandise in each store to achieve those target sales! Out of product = out of sales!  

Bundle it up and… Multiply!  

Mother’s Day is a holiday of multiples, where one customer is likely to purchase more than one gift. In addition to celebrating Mother herself,

customers will also purchase gifts for step-mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, godmothers and friends.

Displays with an assortment of price-points will encourage multiple purchasing, called “bundling,” and will also increase average spend per customer.

Tip #4: When ordering accessories and enhancements, be sure to include pics, cardettes and balloons with sentiments for “other Mothers” such as step-mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, godmothers and friends. These gift choices on display will encourage multiple purchasing by reminding the customer of other mother-like people in their lives.  

Be proud and… Shout It Out!

Did you know that 33 percent of the population will visit a department store rather than a florist for a Mother’s Day gift? The special gift services we provide in our floral shoppes is the difference between a floral purchase and any other gift purchased in a department store.

Do you custom design? SHOUT IT OUT! Do you gift wrap? SHOUT IT OUT!   Do you deliver? SHOUT IT OUT!    

Tip #5: Expand signage and other promotion efforts at each customer “touch-point” within the store, displayed at least four weeks in advance for optimal effectiveness: Front doors, outdoor displays, bag-stuffers, service desk, check lanes, employee badges, wine aisle, greeting cards, bakery, and many other areas! Be sure to list all of the special services that are offered in addition to the beautiful products we sell!

Mix it up and… Cross-Merchandise!

Did you know that 80% of the population purchase greeting cards for Mother’s Day, making them the single most popular gift for Mother’s Day? This means that eight out of ten customers purchase greeting cards, while flowers come in second in popularity equaling 67 percent.

The 4th most popular Mother’s Day purchase is gift cards, and the popularity of gift cards has risen significantly for the past five years.      

Tip #6: Expand cross-merchandising tie-ins within the other popular gift items in the store such as greeting cards, candles and gift card displays. These areas are the perfect places to capture incremental floral sales by adding items to these displays such as balloons, bouquets, boxed roses and blooming plants. Keep these displays full and the returns will multiply!  

Let’s get… Technical!

There are no greater stories than those which express love for a Mother! Create a social media plan with your Marketing Department to make sure customers are engaged, interactive, and ultimately inspired to purchase a Mother’s Day gift from one of your stores. Floral presence should be on the company homepage, and all company social media sites. Most marketing departments would welcome your help in planning this, as you are the resident expert in you customers’ purchasing behaviors.

Tip #7: Create a “Mother is” essay contest on Facebook, where the best essays will go viral with your company name tagged to it!

Encourage employees to submit family photos or their favorite childhood photo on Instagram, and also display the photos in-store.

Create a Mother’s Day board on Pinterest to begin a dialog around the great products that can be purchased in your stores… and don’t forget to use hashtags such as, #lastminutemothersday so potential customers can find you!

Out with the OLD and in with the BOLD! The greatest success comes from the visual consistency in each store which rolls up into an over-arching company brand that customers will recognize for every gift-giving event and holiday.

In the eyes of the customer, the winning store is the one with selection, service, value and freshness.

BOLD is the next step after your comfort zone!

The month of May gives the nation a time to focus and express appreciation and recognition of our armed services. It allows Americans to educate each generation on the impact of our military - to recall and learn about our American history.

flag Cinco de Mayo celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. Mexico had defaulted on its foreign debt to several European countries, including France. Napoleon III saw Mexico’s weakness as an opportunity to establish a monarchy in North America and attacked the Mexican army in the small city of Puebla on May 5.

Although Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a commemoration of Mexican heritage and culture, most people don’t realize that it’s a mostly American holiday particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. It’s scarcely celebrated south of the border; only in the city of Puebla, where the battle took place.

Memorial Day, May 27


Memorial Day formerly known as Decoration Day, was first celebrated on May 30, 1868. General John A. Logan established Decoration Day in remembrance of soldiers who died in defense of their country. Many Americans began hosting tributes to the war’s fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers and flags, reciting prayers and singing hymns. It’s believed the date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom across the country.

Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May. Memorial Day didn’t become an official federal holiday until 1971. The first observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

The month of May is a symbol of unity encouraging U.S. citizens to observe and honor the current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including those who have died in the pursuit of freedom.

Melissa Jones is an experienced mass market and e-commerce buyer with over 15 years in the floriculture industry.