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industry talk

Christmas timing

How your department can strike a balance between the fall and winter holidays.

     With just four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, most retailers recognize that Christmas products have to debut before the November feast if they’re to capture customer interest. But could too much Christmas spirit too early turn customers away or steal Halloween and Thanksgiving sales? The right timing is important, so this month, Senior Editor Shelley Urban asked three floral leaders: What is your schedule for displaying holiday merchandise in your department?

      We start planning in July, and in August, right after school starts, we enlist local elementary school students to help us complete [what will be part of] the store décor. We provide 10 schools with $25 each and ask them to make as many decorations as they can with the money.

     The day after Halloween, we start decorating the entire store, which includes the school students’ work. We display each school’s ornaments on a section of garland in the store with a banner [emblazoned with] the school name above it. The children’s art is always so creative and draws in their parents and family members to see their work.

     We have everything ready in time for our annual open house, which we hold the second Friday in November. All of our merchandise is on display, including samples of the fresh centerpieces that we’ll be offering as well as some of our poinsettias, to showcase them. The open house is our chance to premier what we are offering for the season and because we have a local poinsettia grower, who delivers three to four times a week, we can begin putting poinsettias out early.

     On the Friday before our Thanksgiving ad comes out, which is about 10 days prior to Thanksgiving, we begin displaying a mixture of Thanksgiving and Christmas. On Thanksgiving weekend, we put out all of our poinsettias, Christmas [cacti] and other blooming plants. And then we add our fresh arrangements and greenery, as well as holiday novelty items such as mini decorative trees, two weeks prior to Christmas.

Sandi Probst, floral manager/events coordinator
Lin’s Marketplace; St. George, Utah

      Many stores in the area put Christmas merchandise out early, but we wait until right after Halloween. In early November, we begin displaying nonperishable Christmas products, such as giftware, decorations and ornaments.

     By this time of the year, customers have had “fall” for a few months already, so they’re ready to start getting into the Christmas season. So, about two weeks before Thanksgiving, we cut back on fall mums and start selling poinsettias in novelty colors, such as pink, peach, white and burgundy, because our customers are looking for table pieces that can cross over from Thanksgiving to Christmas. We’ve also done very well with dyed and tinted poinsettias in decorator colors, especially blue, for the holidays. We usually do a few fresh Thanksgiving centerpieces in red and white as well as fresh pine arrangements with just pine cones but no flowers, so they can extend beyond Thanksgiving.

     Right after Thanksgiving, we add red poinsettias and traditional Christmas arrangements to our selections.

Patty Malloy, AIFD, floral manager/buyer
Gordy’s County Market; Eau Claire, Wis.

     In July, we’ll create a small “preview” section to give customers a little taste of Christmas, and we’ll leave that up until early November. For the month of October, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re going to create a “pink Christmas” display, with silver trees and pink ornaments, giftware and permanents. And for [October’s] Customer Appreciation Day, which is the first Tuesday of the month, we’ll have a special price on a Breast Cancer Awareness ornament.

     In November, we start by displaying decorative items that could be used for both Thanksgiving and Christmas and just accessorized, with picks or other items, for each holiday. This includes fresh greens for the table, accessorized with golds and browns [that can transition to Christmas]. By the first week of December, we add traditional reds and greens, and we have our full assortment of Christmas merchandise on display.

Danielle O’Malley, floral merchandiser
Blue Goose Supermarket; St. Charles, Ill.

Reach Senior Editor Shelley Urban at or (800) 355-8086.


Super Floral Retailing • Copyright 2010
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.