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Brandi Cowen From the Editor: August-September 2012

Selling for the Season

Written by Brandi Cowen
Christmas is just around the corner and with any luck, your shop will soon be filled with the sweet sounds of merry staff ringing up big sales. Last year, the average Canadian planned to spend $640 on gifts, according to a poll commissioned by the Royal Bank of Canada. That same poll found that an additional $612 of the average holiday budget was earmarked for “decorations, festive entertainment and travel expenses.” A big slice of the spending pie is up for grabs during the holiday season, and savvy flower shops are well positioned to claim their share.

Getting your product mix just right is the first step to success. Customers across demographic groups are looking to get into the spirit of the season. You should have something to offer the 80-year-old matriarch whose holiday traditions dictate she purchase the same floral arrangements and greenery she’s been buying since her very first Christmas as a newlywed. After all, for some, the holidays are about tradition. But it would be a mistake to stock your shop full of traditional items that have no appeal to a 20-something in search of décor for a funky, festive party. You can’t be everything to everybody, but with a little strategic planning, you can offer everybody something.

One way to appeal to a broader cross-section of customers is to re-imagine the traditional in new and interesting ways. Christine de Beer’s pine cone wreath how-to on page 24 puts a new spin on a seasonal staple, transplanting a familiar texture to an unfamiliar shape. If the trendy is more to your taste, be sure to check out page 22 for a preview of this year’s most noteworthy trends. (Hint: rich colours, classic patterns and warm textures are all poised to be popular this year.)

Flower shops that have nailed their product mix can turn their attention to other methods of winning a bigger slice of the holiday budget. In-store classes and workshops are a good choice at this time of year, since they can help boost sales while offering do-it-yourselfers a fun outing with friends. As our Q&A with Martha Vandepol of Van Belle Flowers & Garden Centre (see page 19) reveals though, timing is everything when it comes to scheduling programming in the run-up to the holidays. Talk with your customers to get a feel for when they like to start decorating their homes and offices, then plan your workshops

accordingly. Promote your classes as a fun weekend activity for the kids or an evening out for the grown-ups. You may find that budgets stretched by the glut of holiday gifts to be purchased can make some room for the expense.

Above all, remember that most consumers are willing to spend for the holidays. In January, a follow-up poll conducted by the Royal Bank of Canada found that almost one-third of Canadians (31 per cent) spent more than they intended to on the holidays. Those who overspent did so, on average, to the tune of $467! It’s something worth bearing in mind as we head into the holidays: The tricky part at this time of year isn’t convincing shoppers to spend their hard-earned dollars; it’s convincing them to spend them with you.
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