Florida grower Rick Brown of Riverview Flower Farm reports good consumer spending in his state despite a delayed start to the season because of weather. Alabama grower Carole Barton of Barton’s Greenhouse & Nursery says garden center traffic in her region has been strong lately, as well.
Up north, where we recently visited Corso’s Flower & Garden Center in Sandusky, Ohio, vice president Chad Corso is hoping for similar traffic.
“My biggest worry is what’s the economy going to do the next 8 to 12 weeks,” says Chad Corso, vice president of Corso’s Perennials in Sandusky, Ohio. “Are there going to be any major auto dealerships that close that really affect our Midwest market? That’s probably my biggest worry right now.”
Corso is also concerned about rising unemployment in the North. His operation, which operates in Erie County, neighbors Ohio’s Huron County. And Huron, he says, has the highest unemployment rate (18 percent) in the state.
Unemployment is even worse in nearby Michigan, which recorded a rate of 11.6 percent across the state for January. Still, unemployment was close to 9 percent in Florida for January, and Brown says the market is stronger than it has been in years.
“Sales are strong statewide but it needs to last,” Brown says. “Consumers are spending now, but they need to keep coming to the garden center for this spring to be successful.”
Barton echoed Brown’s sentiment and reports the weather in central Alabama has been beautiful the last several days.
“With the good weather, locally owned garden centers are reporting good traffic and customers with spring fever who are sick and tired of awful weather and dreary economic news are ready to get outside,” she says. “It looks like the weather will backslide to wet and cool in the next couple of days, but if the last few days are any indication, the weather may be just as important a factor as the economy this year.”
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