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Early results proving positive for Valentine’s Day 2017

Valentine’s Day 2017 was an example of when the stars align themselves and good things happen. At the time of this writing, it appears that all along the supply chain it was one of the best Valentine’s Days in recent years. The flow of product from the areas of production to the retail marketplace moved steadily, with very few of the normal problems.

“This year things seemed to run smoothly, without the backup we have experienced in previous years,” Christine Boldt, executive vice president at the Association of Floral Importers of Florida, told The Produce News. “Although there were backups at some of the trucking companies, for the most part the product cleared through Miami with minimal delays.”

Growers in California also recorded a successful Valentine’s Day.

CUB-VDAYThis Cub Foods floral department in St. Louis Park, MN, was fully stocked and ready for Valentine’s Day shoppers.“We had a great Valentine’s — we were up over last year, with a lot of demand for tulips and iris,” Lane DeVries, president and chief executive officer at Sun Valley Group in Arcata, CA, told The Produce News.

Product quality and freshness is often a problem at Valentine’s Day, due to the sheer volume of flower demand and the timing of the crops.

“Some of the crops were a little late this year.” Paul Harris, farm liaison at Tradewinds International in Boulder, CO, told The Produce News. “That was a good thing because it eliminated a lot the early glut of roses that sit in Miami getting old while waiting to be shipped out. Overall, product quality was very good for the holiday, [with] very few complaints.”

Wholesale florists along the supply chain said they had robust holiday business.

“It was the best Valentine’s Day in years,” Michael Weinmeyer, fresh flowers sales manager at Koehler & Dramm Wholesale Florist in Minneapolis, told The Produce News. “Everything went smoothly — great product and a lot of last minute re-orders. In addition, the weather during the whole shipping period was wonderful — for Minnesota.”

On the retail level, Valentine’s Day 2017 was a very strong holiday, based on my informal polling of a number of supermarkets and retailers around the country. Liane Mast, floral director at Stater Bros. Markets in San Bernadino, CA, told The Produce News they had “phenomenal sales for the day of Valentine’s, the 14th — the chain was up 35 percent over last year for the same day.”

“Everything went smoothly,” said Mast. “From deliveries and backhauls, shipping to the stores, retail space for displays, committed labor for the department, to the beautiful weather. No hang-ups.”

Mast did relate one humorous and unexpected challenge though.

On Feb. 15, “We had a grand re-opening for a store. Our floral specialist, Gary Niehaus, had extra product stored in the back room to reset the department at 1 o’clock in the morning. Someone had put that product out on the floor [late Tuesday night, Valentine’s Day] and sold everything!” said Mast. “He had to transfer product from another store to do the set. I thought, whoever put the product out for sale should get a blue ribbon.”

Susan DeMuth, manager of floral merchandising, Heartland Region, at SpartanNash in Minneapolis and Grand Rapids, MI, told The Produce News, “It was an outstanding holiday. It was over the top! I was a little worried coming out of the weekend [that] we were behind and I was actually a little nervous to look at the final numbers on Wednesday — but we really did great. It seems that Valentine’s Day is really becoming a one-day holiday with the strongest pressure coming on the 14th. Both divisions were way over their projected sales.”

When talking to people about Valentine’s Day 2017, the one thing that kept coming up was the weather. In recent years and in many parts of the U.S., weather wreaked havoc on product flow and flower sales. Last year on the day before Valentine’s Day in Minneapolis, the temperature was 14 degrees below zero, which can freeze a rose in a minute.

“We really deserved good weather this year,” Rita Peters, assistant vice president of floral at Hy-Vee in West Des Moines, IA, told The Produce News. “For the last few years we were frozen out, with frigid temperatures and wind.” She got her wish, as the temperatures in the Hy-Vee market-area this year were above freezing.

Ashley Dimmitt, floral manager at Hy-Vee in New Hope, MN, told The Produce News, “We were way, way, way, way, over last year, and the weather was wonderful!”

For the past several years, stores in the northeastern U.S. and New England contended with heavy snowfalls that restricted travel and business. This year the area was hit with a blizzard Feb. 9-10 and a second storm system dropped 10 inches of snow on the Boston area Feb. 13.

“But they had the streets cleared on Monday and people were moving around,” Nick Fronduto, chief operating officer at Jacobson Floral Supply in Boston, told The Produce News. “Things were a little rough in the city area, but outside of the city everything was smooth. In fact, one of my customers told me that he had the best Valentine’s Day ever, and he has been in business for many years.”

Most of the floral professionals The Produce News talked with believe that the biggest factor in the success of this year’s Valentine’s Day was that it was on a Tuesday.

“We know that a mid-week holiday will be a lot busier. I think this year proved that,” Lee Spence, president at Koehler & Dramm Wholesale Florist in Minneapolis, told The Produce News.

“We really had a great Valentine’s Day — we were way over last year,” Dena Telschow, floral manager at the Family Fresh Market in New Richmond, WI, told The Produce News. When asked if it was her biggest one ever, she replied, “No, it was big but our biggest, that was on a Wednesday. I am looking forward to next year.”