When we conducted a survey in late December asking retailers what they thought of poinsettia sales, the responses weren’t exactly an overwhelming affirmation of their love for the holiday mainstay.
While some said sales improved this year with more customer traffic, others said they now only carry them as a convenience to their customers and no longer see them as a big seller. However, overall they still are the top-selling holiday plant.
Many blamed competition from box stores for reduced sales, saying they can’t compete with rock bottom prices like the 99-cent loss leader promotions from Home Depot and Lowe’s on Black Friday.
“I still have steady demand from customers, though slightly less each year,” says one retailer. “My same customers seem to come in and buy them for themselves or as gifts. I sell many during a Thanksgiving weekend open house with special pricing. I seem to lose out when pricing for larger orders, such as churches, etc. Growing my own does provide me some flexibility.”
Despite attempts by industry breeders in the past several years to provide multiple options for poinsettias in different colors, textures and habits, red still rules. In our survey, 91 percent of those responding said red was their top selling color in 2009. For the most part it seemed many independent retailers gave the 4-inch poinsettia market to the box stores in favor of larger sizes (and larger margins). Forty percent said 6-inch was their top-selling size, while 32 percent said 6.5 inch sold best.
Retailers didn’t expand or contract the amount of space they dedicated to showcasing poinsettias–66 percent said they gave them the same amount of space as last year.
On the sales side, about 24 percent said they saw an increase in sales compared to last year, while 37 percent said they were down in sales year over year. About 39 percent said sales were flat.
However, in ranking the poinsettia market on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being poor and 10 being excellent, about 36 percent said it was above average this year. About a quarter ranked it average,and 28 percent said it was below average.
Trends In Holiday Plants
Nearly 90 percent said poinsettias were still the dominant holiday plant, but many also gave examples of other plants that customers were buying. These included the standard holiday fare of amaryllis, paper whites, Christmas cactus and cyclamen. Others said potted Christmas trees that are 4-feet and under, tropical greenery, white hydrangeas, orchids and ferns did especially well this winter.
One retailer found success in changing up the way they sold the traditional plant: “Although single poinsettias have traditionally been our biggest seller, this year we saw a big increase in sales of doubles and triples. The local grocery stores have cheapened the single market, but we also found that they are charging the same or slightly more for doubles and triples compared to us.”
Painted poinsettias are still around and in some markets have found a nice niche. “There is lots of debate about whether painted poinsettias are past their prime, but we are seeing lots of customers just learning about it,” says one retailer. “There’s definitely more market potential.”