Forty-one percent of households purchased florals and plants for indoor use during 2003, down slightly from 44 percent in 2001. Cut flowers are a popular gift item, especially for Valentine's Day.
The retail market for cut flowers and florist items is said to be $15 billion by Chain Store Age magazine.
In total, sales of flowers, seeds, and potted plants (including both indoor and outdoor plants) was $18.2 billion in 2002, according to personal consumption data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. This represents a 1.4 percent increase over sales of $17.9 billion in 2000.
There are about 24,000 florists in the United States, according to statistics compiled by the Department of Census, but no national store-based retailer of note. Consumer brands FTD and Teleflora are actually wholesalers that distribute through the existing independent retail network. But more and more flowers are available to shoppers everywhere, from the grocery store, Wal-Mart, and the corner convenience store to the garden center and nursery. So where cut flowers were once a specialized product that you had to search out, today they are commonplace.
As the flower market opens up, more marketers are exploring ways to bypass the retailer altogether and deliver flowers directly to the consumer. 1-800-FLOWERS was an early innovator of delivering flowers directly. The company was founded in 1986 by Jim McCann who operated a chain of 14 flower shops in the New York area. Smartly anticipating the future, he bought the rights to the 1-800-FLOWERS phone number and so an innovative direct-to-consumer technology-enabled national florist business was born. Today it is a $566 million company selling cut flowers, plants, and a wide selection of gift items through its Web site, toll-free hotline, direct mail catalogs, and more than 100 franchised and company-owned stores.
% CHG '00-'02
Total Personal Consumption in millions
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis
Self-purchasers in this category tend to be indoor gardening enthusiasts. Indoor gardening allows the homeowner to bring the outdoors in, decorating the home with plants. Indoor gardening can be as simple as an African violet on the windowsill, or as elaborate as greenhouses equipped with grow lights, hydroponic culture, and special heating systems.
The National Gardening Association estimates that 46 percent of American households participate in some aspect of indoor gardening. That makes indoor plants the second most popular and participated-in gardening activity after lawn care.
But beyond indoor gardening, flowers and plants are an extremely popular gift item, accounting for much of the purchasing by men. Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Easter, Christmas, housewarmings, anniversaries, and romance occasions are the primary gifting holidays and occasions for flowers and plants.
Men tend to buy flowers for gifts, while women are the primary consumers of indoor greenery. All ages, even seniors age 65 and above, buy florals and indoor plants.
Florals and indoor greenery are more widely bought by middle-to-upper-income households, those that make $50,000 and above. Also linked with higher purchase incidence is greater educational attainment. So if one is thinking of starting a floral business, a location near a college would be ideal. Purchase incidence rises with household size, as households with two or more individuals buy more in this category. The presence of children in the home, however, has little impact on purchase incidence.
Men buy flowers and women buy indoor plants.
Households with income of $50,000 and above buy more.
Larger households buy more, but there is no impact from the presence of children.
All ages from the youngest to seniors buy flowers and indoor greenery.