Industry Pulse: Your Expectations For Spring

Please provide us with any additional comments or observations about your expectations for spring.

Plants make people happy so they will still buy them.

Some farmers are closing their operation because nutrients are very expensive.

Our seed sales are already up 15 percent at least year to date. I would expect veggie plant sales to be through the roof.

As a supplier, I see growers being very cautious with the size and breadth of crop they are producing. As we have seen many times and tend to forget, this is the biggest hobby in the country. I believe the average consumer may spend a little less on the upper-end items, but veggies and seed may sell at unprecedented levels.

We are very, very cautiously optimistic. If anything gives the consumer an excuse not to buy, watch out.

Vegetable and fruit plants should do as well or better. So should the smaller pots of annuals and/or perennials. I anticipate slower sales for broad landscaping, especially using the large potted and balled plants and trees.

Too many growers have scaled back and will miss opportunities.

Think positive and you will radiate positive thoughts to your customers. Worry and they will worry.

I think more consumers are going to look local for their flowers and vegetables.

>Spring weather will have some influence on sales as well. This will be a challenging year, but we expect the outlook to improve in 2010.

Our gut feeling is that if the weather is good, people will buy flowers.
This spring is all about unemployment. If you sell in an area of high unemployment, then sales will suffer. If you sell in an area with low unemployment, sales will be pretty good.

The key is weather. It always has been and always will be. Many other factors come into play, but they are mainly controllable or manageable. Weather is something we just hope works in our favor.

I’m very concerned about spring sales. We do three farmers’ markets and sales were off on all three. Fall mums sales were not that great. Where in 2007 people would buy three mums at a time, in 2008 they would buy only one. We also have a gift shop and sales have been in free fall since last year. So, I really don’t see things turning around all that much. I do hope I’m wrong.

Sunny weekends can improve a sluggish economy in this industry. Anybody know how to make these happen?

We typically do better in a down economy. People can’t afford to travel, so they stay home and work in the yard.

I have to be more alert to my customers and be flexible enough to accommodate them.

There is a large decrease in sales to smaller sizes and quantities. Most of my sales are to more upscale people, as they seem to be the only ones with disposable income to spend.

It’s hard to know what to think. Are we really recession proof, as we like to say? I guess we’re about to find out. About 50 percent of our spring business is with landscape contractors. From what they tell us, they will see a significant drop in new, large installations and are being asked to sharpen the pencils on maintenance. We have been approached to do the same with our prices, which is tough because many of our inputs continue to go up. Our hope is that color sales will hold their own, and we will be adding vegetables. But I don’t know overall how much they can push sales.

If we get good weather this spring, we believe we will have a good season despite the questionable economy.

We must all try harder to connect with the public and our regular customers to bring them back into our business and give them a great reason to shop with us.

I think with things getting tight people will get back to basics, do more vegetables and beautify their homes.

Bad spring weather will bring disaster to our business. Flat sales at mass marketers will hurt and that (flat sales or decreasing) seems to be the early trend.

Customers are delaying orders of products as long as possible and then ordering smaller quantities of product. Cash flow seems to be a very high concern of growers.

Even if the economy was to make a quick turnaround, the weather will be the single-most important stimulus package we can get. Good weather means more customer traffic and increased sales.

Early customers seem unconcerned with price.

We’re gearing up as we always have in the past – get as much as we can packed in our houses, because when it is all said and done, it will be the weather that will determine the way spring plays out.

If all you hear is that you are sick, you will be sick. We need to be realistic but at the same time we need to give hope to the general public. We need more consumer attention to our colorful products.

Our wholesale business has decreased the past two years as more small florists in the area have closed or gone to cheaper product shipped in from larger growers out of state. They have not found their niche. On the other hand, we’ve seen our retail business continue to increase based on word of mouth of our quality and uniqueness. Our winter has been tough, so as long as weather in May is good, we believe customers will be out to get color and celebrate the end of winter.

You can only sell from a full cart, so let us get on with the show. No one can predict the weather, as we can predict what will sell and what will not. We all have to think positive, and adjust to the times and conditions ahead.

In California, we are facing three challenges: Three years of below average rainfall, the national economy and a state budget shortfall of $46 billion.

Recessions historically have been periods of opportunity and growth for us. We feel fortunate we do not have a housing crisis in Canada. While the ongoing train wreck that is the automotive sector will cost many blue-collar jobs, they are typically not garden center shoppers.

Mine is a small roadside greenhouse. We dad a 500 percent increase in vegetable plant sales in 2008. I am hopeful for further increase in 2009.

Consumers won’t find everything they are looking for in plants. There’s a shortage of the good stuff.

I expect more in 4 ½ -inch annuals, flats of veggies and planters and baskets larger than 12 inches.

for full results of our Industry Pulse spring survey.

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