In January, we welcomed in 2020 with excited fanfare -- the start of a new decade full of promise. By March, promise turned to a viral pandemic sweeping the globe, which threatened the very livelihood of our industry and resulted in various states of lockdown for the better part of 60 to 90 days. In between, seasons changed, and society as we know it upended. We also lost a beloved member of our floral community on May 19 with the passing of Robert DeBellis, a colleague, floral industry leader and friend to many of us. Robert DeBellis, AIFD, PFCI, Lead Designer/Speaker at World Class Flowers, passed away on May 19. Rob was a longtime volunteer leader on PMA's Floral Council, a speaker at Fresh Summit, and an icon in the industry. In a 2019 interview with PMA, Rob shared he kept a sign in his office that read: “To sell more is to teach more.” We are forever grateful to Rob for the gift of his friendship, time, talents and all he taught us.
Rob was an accredited member of the American Institute of Floral Designers and was a lead designer and education specialist at World Class Flowers at the time of his passing. He was also a cherished and valued volunteer leader for Produce Marketing Association. Rob served on PMA’s Floral Council for nine years. He exhibited with World Class Flowers at Fresh Summit since 2006, was a speaker at Fresh Summit in 2008, and wowed us with his booth displays, countless stunning floral designs and love for flowers and this industry.
During PMA’s May 20 virtual floral roundtable, Susan Ruiz with World Class also remembered Rob for his playful and mischievous candor, booming voice, love for educating others, and inspiring stage presence. PMA is indebted to Rob for his contributions to the association, the industry and for the talent and force he was in the floral world. We are going to miss Rob dearly, and I know the same goes for many of you who knew him. The loss is great. My hope is to carry even a small part of his love and enthusiasm for his work and this business forward as inspiration. Floral sales outlook positive for summer
Some say creativity and ingenuity are often born from crises and chaos. And these certainly have been chaotic times. What’s become even more apparent to me these past couple of months is that our industry is made up of good people who do great work and who relish in bringing happiness to others. Based on our Mother’s Day survey, reports from retailers in our most recent virtual roundtables, and anecdotes from many of you, there’s a collective feeling that our industry will emerge stronger. Optimism is high. The emphasis on health, well-being, consumers’ desire for self-care and treating themselves, an appreciation for little things, and desire to connect and celebrate moments and occasions both big and small bodes well for the floral industry.
We also shared our latest research findings on changing consumer behaviors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Retailers highlighted trends, explored shifts in consumer behavior, and shared insights around opportunities to grow business during summer and fall. We recently published
consumer sentiment research for floral in the U.K., U.S. and Germany
. The consensus? There’s opportunity. Some categories are emerging as consumer behaviors and ways of celebrating have changed, U.S. retailers don’t plan to rationalize SKUs very much in the near term, and there is a DIY and homesteading trend. Value items and price sensitivity remain important considerations.
As we move into June, retailers see typically ancillary holidays like Father’s Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day have potential for incorporating floral, home décor and balloons at home celebrations, whether a small neighborhood party, barbecue or other intimate get-togethers with friends and family wanting to connect. Also, think how you can serve consumers participating in drive-by parties for birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, and even celebrating brides and grooms on original dates for weddings that had to be postponed. Provide ways to help people decorate cars and drop off grab-and-go gifts, arrangements and bouquets.
In our next virtual floral roundtable on May 27, we’ll explore transportation for floral, and we’ll take a deeper dive into e-commerce and more in the coming weeks. In these sessions, we will arm you with information, insights, and actionable ideas. We also have some new, exciting digital assets you can use in your Joy of Fresh™ campaigns. Don’t forget to keep sharing your good news and visual stories with us at
, and hashtag #JoyOfFresh on your social media posts.
We look forward to continuing to connect with you and supporting your work to bring a sense of wellness, happiness and normalcy to consumers. Let’s get to adding some sizzle to our summer sales! We can’t wait to see your stories.