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Women’s Day on March 8 seemed to industry veterans to be growing as a floral holiday. “The mass market is starting to make it a promotional opportunity,” said Lane DeVries, president and chief executive officer of Sun Valley Group in Arcata, CA. He had proposed the industry make it a floral holiday in a guest column in The Produce News in January 2012.

The first women’s day celebration was held in the United States in 1909 and called National Women’s Day. It was adopted by other countries and became an international celebration in 1910. This year, 256 events were held in the United States to inspire women and celebrate their achievements, up from 74 events in 2011. The holiday is bigger in Europe, where the United Kingdom had 431 events and Italy 1,484.  

WFE-PHOTOS413-EDWIN-BALAGUEA wall of flowers was the centerpiece for Miami-based Jet Fresh Flower Distributor Co.’s booth. Edwin Balaguer, a sales representative, showed two visitors a colorful gerbera daisy. On all four walls, the booth displayed about 400 flowers.Two U.S. retailers — H-E-B and Albertson’s — had signage and special sales marking Women’s Day, while others, like Whole Foods Market and Schnuck Markets, had special floral sales that began March 8. And Internet giant 1-800-Flowers created a “Women’s Week” floral collection of eight gift bouquets in white fence planters, purple vases, and other stylish containers.

Albertson’s operates more than 1,000 stores under five banners in 29 states; H-E-B has 340 stores in Texas and Mexico; Whole Foods has about 340 stores in North America and the United Kingdom; and Schnuck Markets has about 100 stores in five Midwest states. A store executive noted that other chains may have promoted the day but been reticent about sharing competitive information.

“This is the first year we have promoted International Women’s Day and based on the results we will be doing it again,” said Debora Coleman, floral sales manager at Albertson’s, in a statement. “Many of our customers where very interested in what this holiday was about, but the displays of tulips are what really sold the product.”

“International Women’s Day is a day for us to celebrate all the women in our lives — from friends and family members to colleagues and mentors-and their achievements in society, whether on a global, national, local or personal scale,” Jim McCann, chief executive officer of 1-800-Flowers, was quoted as saying in a news release.

Officials at supermarkets in the Midwest and Northeast said that Women’s Day is a growing floral holiday at their stores that serve European immigrant groups who had already celebrated the day.

“The St. Louis area has one of the biggest Bosnia-Serbian populations in the nation,” said Michael Schrader, director of floral at Schnuck Markets there, in an interview. “It is a huge floral holiday for them, and they love roses and chrysanthemums. We began a rose eventsale March 8 offering a long-stemmed rose for $1 per stem companywide. Each store had between 20 and 50 varieties and they sold quite well,” he added.

H-E-B mounted a social media campaign where women posted accounts of sending flowers to a friend or relative, such as: “Last week, I received an email from H-E-B, asking if I would like to send a bouquet of tulips to a woman in honor of National Women’s Day. I love that!” She went on to tell about sending flowers to a friend in Texas.

“For the industry, the timing is just right for Women’s Day,” Mr. DeVries concluded. “Three weeks after Valentine’s Day, three weeks before Easter. Just right.”