Friday, May 2, 2008

Mother's Day Projections

Here is a scoop on a news release coming out today by our Texas AgriLife Communications Team:

Experts Say Things Looking Rosy for Texas Floriculture This Mother’s Day
Author: Paul Schattenberg

While research shows U.S. consumers expect to spend a bit less on Mother’s Day this year, that likely will not affect the purchase of cut flowers and flowering plants for moms in Texas, according to industry experts.

According to the 2008 Mother’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey conducted by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation, Americans expect to spend an average of $138.63 on Mom this year. This is slightly down from the 2007 average of $139.14.

But although a nationwide reduction in consumer spending for Mother’s Day is expected, those associated with the Texas green industry expect flower purchases to be as good or better than in 2007.

Dr. Charles Hall, Professor and Ellison Chair in International Floriculture at Texas A&M University, said he expects the Texas floral industry to fare well this Mother’s Day due to a combination of timing and consumer confidence.

“In spite of the downturn in consumer spending for Mother’s Day predicted in the National Retail Federation survey, the same survey shows Americans intend to still spend more than $2 billion on flowers this Mother’s Day,” he said.

Hall added that the 2007 NRF study showed more than 72 percent of those surveyed purchased some sort of Mother’s Day flora at an average retail price of $27.59.

“Other gifts like jewelry, CDs, housewares and the like tend to be spread out among the holidays, but flowers are a traditional choice for holidays centered around women,” he said. Hall also noted that overall consumer confidence is still high in Texas and that the likelihood of consumers purchasing flowers and other floral items “directly correlates” to that confidence.

“Not only that,” he said, “but (economic stimulus) rebate checks are now being mailed out and that will give more impetus to spending. Some of that money will go toward Mother’s Day gifts, which would include flowers.”

“Even with the slowdown in the economy, the amount that will be spent on flowers for Mother’s Day throughout Texas probably will be as much or more than last year,” said Jack Cross, past president of the Texas State Florists’ Association and owner of Arthur Pfeil Florist in San Antonio. “Mother’s Day is a traditional holiday, and the Texas consumer is traditional about Mother’s Day gift purchases, especially when it comes to buying flowers.”

In addition, Easter came much earlier this year than in years past, giving more time for the consumers to “recover” before their Mother’s Day flower purchase, Cross added.

When it comes to cut flowers, Texans usually prefer buying roses, carnations, tulips and lilies for Mom from their neighborhood florist, he said. Azaleas, begonias and Calla lilies are among the most popular flowering plants purchased.

“If someone is going to buy from a garden center instead of a floral shop, then that purchase will usually be something like a rose bush or a hibiscus plant,” he said.

While the product mix between Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day couldn’t be more different, the sales dollars generated from each are about the same, said Stan Pohmer, executive director of the national Flower Promotion Organization, based in Minnetonka, Minn.

“Mother’s Day accounts for about 25 percent of all floral holiday sales,” Pohmer said. Cut flowers represent about 46 percent of Mother’s Day floral transactions, outdoor bedding plants and hanging baskets represent about 37 percent, and flowering house plants and foliage represent about 15 percent.

Pohmer added that 64 percent of Mother’s Day flower purchases are made by women. However, he cautioned, floral sales in general may not be as sure-fire in the future as they have been in the past.

“While the floral industry has previously thought of itself as recession-proof, a more realistic term these days would probably be recession-resistant,” he said.

But in the Lone Star State, flower producers, greenhouse growers and retailers are all poised to make sure Texas moms gets their mums – or whatever floral they desire.

“Things look good this year for flower retailers and the greenhouse floral industry in Texas,” said Richard de los Santos, state marketing coordinator for horticulture with the Texas Department of Agriculture. “Flower growers are pretty well sold out of product and have made commitments to their retailers.”

“There seems to be a growing desire for people to give plants that continue to live and give,” said Marilyn Good, communications director for the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association in Austin. “Blooming potted plants are gaining favor, and the real up-and-coming gift plant is the orchid, which has a hard-to-grow reputation, but many are low maintenance.”

David Rodriguez, Texas AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist for Bexar County, agrees mothers often prefer potted plants or bedding plants to cut flowers.

“Some good choices for live plants for Mother’s Day might be Belinda’s Dream and Grandma’s Yellow roses, which are Texas SuperStar plants. This means, among other things, they are attractive, unique flowering plants suited to Texas. And they consistently perform well, regardless of a person’s gardening expertise.”

Other Texas SuperStar plants that may serve as good selections are the ‘Gold Star’ Esperanza and Perennial Hibiscus, he said. And the moth orchid makes a good choice for a beautiful, low-maintenance indoor flowering plant.

“But regardless of flower selection, there is always something unique about Mother’s Day,” added Hall. “Mother’s Day tends to supercede economic concerns in a ways other holidays do not. People know they can always rely on Mom during the tough times, so they aren’t going to forget that when Mother’s Day comes around.”

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