Kimberly Carter is a floral designer with 1-800-Flowers in Port Charlotte, a busy retail shop impacted by COVID-19. The retail floral industry predicts declining sales for Easter and Mother’s Day. NORTH PORT — During World War II, you couldn’t deliver flowers in rubber-tired vehicles. Florists survived that one. And the floral industry in the 1930s halted a $2 million marketing push as the economy collapsed. That’s about $31 million in 2020 dollars. Again, florists persisted. Now there’s COVID-19. And some florists aren’t so sure about the future. They are banking flower sales this Easter, April 12, and Mother’s Day on May 10, will carry many of them through summer’s off-season. While every facet of American life is affected by COVID-19, florists will rake in big dollars on a few select holidays, then pay the electric bill on wedding arrangements and prom corsages. While web delivery giants such as Teleflora, FTD or 1-800-Flowers may carry the bigger floral shops, smaller ones relying on walk-in business hold their breath. There’s COVID-19’s double-whammy limiting access to senior-care centers, hospitals, weddings, funerals, work functions and other places and occasions where flowers and floral arrangements normally go — meaning the industry could be upside down by the time things get back to normal. “We’re just hopeful we’ll get through this,” said Linda Stevens, a fourth-generation florist and owner of Stevens the Florist Sout h in Englewood. Her great-grandfather, Charles Stevens, first opened a florist shop in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and the family had wholesale greenhouses as the business flowered. But COVID-19 and new state rules have forced closure of her Englewood shop at 3455 S. Access Road. She delivers or takes orders off the web or from regulars that include Keith Rowley of Rowley Insurance in Englewood. On Wednesday he had purchased flower arrangements for […]