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Preliminary Valentine’s Day sales results draw mixed reviews

The 2014 Valentine’s Day initial sales reports from different parts of the country showed variable results, but indicated a slight increase over last year.

Paul Harris, sales and farm liaison for Tradewinds International in Boulder, CO, after polling member-wholesalers around the country, said that holiday business improved as you moved from the East Coast to the West Coast.

“People in the Northeast got hammered, but the numbers got better as you moved west. In fact, one wholesaler in Colorado reported a 24 percent sales increase over 2013,” Harris said.

Steve Geruso, owner of East Coast Wholesale Florist in Norwalk, CT, confirmed Harris’ observation about the Northeast.

“We got hit hard by the weather, but luckily the weather forecasters gave us enough time to cut back some shipments in order to keep our inventory in line,” said Geruso. “Our sales overall were pretty flat.”

The East Coast weather also affected Miami flower importers and shippers. Mark Dubner, sales manager at Connectaflor in Miami, said that sales slowed as the storms approached in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. “We didn’t sell much to the Northeast from Tuesday on,” Dubner said. “We shipped our pre-booked orders, but there wasn’t much of anything after that, it just died.”

In the upper Midwest the weather wasn’t a significant factor. SpartanNash’s Midwest floral division in Minneapolis experienced an increase of 10.7 percent in sales and had a great holiday, according to Sue Demuth, manager of floral merchandising. She also noted that the Family Fresh Market in New Richmond, WI, successfully applied its whole-store holiday approach (“Family Fresh #321 offers a whole-store holiday,” Floral Marketing in The Produce News, Jan. 13-27, 2014, page 57). The store recorded an 8 percent increase in floral sales, an 11 percent increase in meat department sales and bakery sales were up 38 percent.

Lee Spence, president of Koehler & Dramm Wholesale Florist in Minneapolis was anticipating more business this year but said the sales numbers looked like they’d be about the same as last year.

“The weather didn’t make much difference but Valentine’s Day landing on a Friday may have flattened sales,” said Spence.

On the West Coast, Alice Grazziani, director of floral for Gelson’s Markets, Commerce City, CA, said the company had a successful holiday and recorded moderate sales increases this Valentine’s Day.