To measure the yearning for human connection, look to trends in the flower industry.
When businesses shut down at the beginning of lockdowns, floral shop owners anticipated wilting sales. In March, “If we got one or two orders a day, we felt lucky,” said Jordan Hewson, owner of Designed Gardens Flower Studio in North Conway.
But then Mother’s Day hit and many florists found they couldn’t keep up with demand.
“It was unbelievable,” Hewson said. “I had to shut down my website because I couldn’t take a single more order.”
Up to 75% of businesses polled by The Society of American Florists reported increased sales on Mother’s Day this year, despite the pandemic, according to a press release published May 21.
“We’re really encouraged to see that spending increased, despite the many potential obstacles – financial, logistical – that could have driven floral spending on gifts downward,” said Society of American Florists (SAF) CEO Kate Penn.
Shirley Wrenn of Shirley’s Flowers and Sweets in Nashua recently added a third vehicle to keep up with demand. “We have been crazy, crazy, crazy,” she said, with Mother’s day orders extending two weeks beyond May 10.
Amidst a backdrop of chaos and sorrow, sending floral arrangements with pops of color are a simple way for cooped-up friends to express support and solidarity as they adjust to the norms of social distancing. Flowers are natural mood elevators, a fact that behavioral research from Rutgers University in New Jersey confirms. The study measured participants’ reactions to gifts of flowers against gifts of candles or fruit baskets, and only flowers elicited authentic smiles. This is all the more notable in time of coronavirus because these types of grins show up in the crow’s feet or laugh lines area of the face and are discernible behind a mask.
More people are also seeking blossoms native to the area, said researcher Kaitlyn Orde at the University of New Hampshire’s Sideman Lab.
The number of farms producing field-grown cut flowers in New Hampshire climbed from 64 to 101 farms, an increase of about 60%, in the decade from 2007 to 2017, according to the The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“Cut flowers are an increasingly important specialty crop in the state,” said Orde, “and [the spike] illustrates that consumer demand is strong for regionally-grown flowers.”
Despite the lack of special events, Bob Cote of wholesaler Baystate Farm Direct Flowers in Bedford says business has been brisk. However, the continued postponement of large gatherings for funerals and nuptials is not hardy news for florists powering through less than ideal conditions. “Weddings are our bread and butter for the summer,” Cote said.
Floral shops, like other retailers, are adjusting their operations to address customers’ hesitancy to browse in their aisles. In addition to offering delivery and curbside pickup, Hewson encourages people to visit her open-air greenhouse where she transferred many of her ancillary gift items. She also posted that same inventory on a revamped website.“We’re still using that [the greenhouse and the website] for people who don’t feel comfortable coming […]
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