American trade association the National Retail Federation estimates that the average US consumer will spend $126.90 on Mother's Day in 2010, a staggering £84 translated into UK spending.
Spending on gifts for Mother’s Day, which falls on May 9 in the US, is exceeded only by spending at Christmas, according to the survey.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans will buy flowers for the holiday, generosity that will add $1.9 billion to the top lines of state-side florists.
Total spending is predicted to increase slightly from the recession-affected holiday period in 2009, and by even more at specialist shops such as florists and jewellers.
When it comes to giving gifts, one third of Americans rely on their independent retailers. Another 20 percent shop online. Only 30 percent use large chain stores.
The British Retail Consortium does not carry out a similar survey for Britain but a survey of my household, which has one mother, three children who should be buying gifts for their mother, and two parents who both have mothers, I can state regretfully that we would dramatically drag down the average Mother’s Day spend if we were in the US.
Betweenus I believe we managed a school-made card, a box of Cadbury’s Cream Eggs, a text message and a brief phone call. Total cost: about a fiver.
Mother’s Day, it is safe to say, is a dramatically under-sold opportunity for UK florists compared to our peers over the pond.
Unless dramatic strategic changes are made from top-to-bottom in the industry there is very little I expect to change.
Simple business logic suggests that revenue for florists has to be increased by offering more flowers and other gifts that the public wants to buy, and using this additional volume to increase profit margins on every unit sold.
But offering the same flowers and gifts – either via a high street outlet or as a relay executor – as a competitor 50 yards up the road, is a strategy that will deliver virtually no profit margin regardless of volume.
Florists operating in this way have no more power to make a profit margin from their highest selling day of the year as petrol stations do as we all fill up our cars at the start of the August bank holiday. Revenues inevitably rise in the run up to a peak day of demand, but two outlets offering an identical product or service will inevitably cut their prices until profit margins are as good as zero.
The comparison with petrol stations applies on the buying side as well. Petrol costs the same to Sainsbury’s BP and Texaco. So do red roses from Holland.
Florists must provide a point of difference over their competitors both on the way they select and buy their stock, and on the way they package their stock and market it to the public. An event like Mother’s Day is an opportunity to persuade the public to try something different to show mum just how special she is – hence the boost in sales for independent florists ahead of large stores in the United States.
It is time for florists to think and act differently, and to make sure that when people consider buying flowers as a special gift, they are not confronted with a choice of identikit arrangements.
The lack of differentiation on the high street is terrible for florists, and even worse for mothers.