Rethinking Strategies for the Floral Department – Mother’s Day still a sales opportunity despite pandemic

April 25, 2020

By Jim Dudlicek, Director, Communications and External Affairs

As an essential business, grocers have experienced a surge in sales during the coronavirus crisis despite restrictions imposed on other retailers. But while sales of food, cleaning products and paper goods are soaring, floral products are taking a lower priority, even with the looming Mother’s Day holiday.

However, there are opportunities to leverage floral for at-home activities amid nationwide shelter-in-place orders, as flowers offer tangible benefits for consumers beset by anxiety in uncertain times.

According to a recent retailer survey conducted by the Produce Marketing Association, 70% of respondents expect their Mother’s Day floral sales to decline by at least 5% over prior year, with 45% anticipating a drop of more than 10%.

More than a third of respondents (34%) named COVID-19 and related lockdown or social distancing measures as the biggest barrier to a strong Mother’s Day floral presence this year, with 30% naming labor, 13% lack of space or priority for floral, and 9% household income.

Even with those dire expectations, 70% of survey respondents said they still plan to carry more than 20 SKUs of floral products for Mother’s Day 2020.

PMA followed up its survey with a “virtual town hall” in which retailers said they believe consumers will still buy flowers for Mother’s Day, but stores need to change the rules of the game.

What’s going to help move floral products this year?

  • Adopt a self-service model, with displays that reduce browsing time and help shoppers maintain social distance. This will also free up floral staff to assist wherever needed elsewhere in the store.
  • Offer grab-and-go bouquets in wet buckets near checkouts to drive impulse buys.
  • Leverage PMA’s marketing ideas – Think of May as Mother’s Day Month. For Teacher Appreciation Week May 4-8, celebrate parents as homeschool teachers during stay-at-home orders.

Other ideas include using outdoor spaces to market flowers while still maintaining physical-distancing requirements, and considering ways to include floral in online ordering, delivery and curbside pickup.

Retailers also can tap the resources available from PMA as part of its Joy of Fresh™ initiative. PMA offers an online tool kit chockful of marketing messages, sample social media posts and talking points about the value and benefits of floral in times of crisis.

While consumers are homebound during the pandemic, Joy of Fresh is meant to help retailers across the global floral supply chain tell a consistent story about the benefits of floral and “bringing the outside in” to homes, workplaces and interior spaces, PMA Chief Marketing Officer Lauren M. Scott said.

For more information or how to access the Joy of Fresh online tool kit, contact PMA’s Kathy Means at