This category covers establishments primarily engaged in the retail sale of cut flowers and growing plants. Establishments primarily engaged in the retail sale of seeds, bulbs, and nursery stock are classified in SIC 5261: Retail Nurseries, Lawn and Garden Supply Stores. Greenhouses and nurseries primarily engaged in growing seeds, bulbs, flowers, and nursery stock are classified in SIC 0181: Agriculture. Establishments primarily engaged in the retail sale of artificial flowers are classified in SIC 5999: Miscellaneous Retail Stores, Not Elsewhere Classified.
Florists design arrangements either per customer request or design arrangements according to standard designs for general sales. Their job also entails floral decoration of buildings, cost and price consulting, and training others in floriculture. Most traditional retail florists are affiliated with national wire services that handle long-distance orders by telephone. The receiving florist gets a commission from the sending florist depending on the size of the order. Often, customers are charged an additional service fee by the sending florist.
Retail sales in this industry reached an estimated $19 billion in 2003, from 22,753 specialty florist shops. Also contributing to the sales total were purchases from 23,000 supermarkets, 16,432 nurseries and garden centers, 10,216 domestic growers, and 1,000 wholesalers. The top flower growing states were California, Florida, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, and Michigan. California alone accounted for nearly 70 percent of the total flowers grown in the country. There were more than 115,000 florists employed in 2003, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Society of American Florists formed in 1884 to represent retail florists and all segments of the industry. Unfortunately, association officials have no records of the first retail floral establishments in the United States. Florist Transworld Delivery (FTD) of Downers Grove, Illinois, was the first floral wire service to standardize order placement among florists nationwide. Originally, 15 florists joined together in 1910 in Rochester, New York, as the Florists' Telegraph Delivery Association to exchange orders for out-of-town deliveries by telegraph. Before the formation of FTD, floral arrangements were shipped out of town via train or mail. FTD was the first to create a standard special bouquet order with its member florists and was also the first such company to publish floral arrangement catalogs to help consumers select the proper arrangements.
A green plant boom in the 1970s, coupled with a big demand for imported cut flowers, prompted a rapid nationwide expansion in the number of florists. The Floral Index, Inc., a Chicago-based marketing and consulting service reports overall retail sales of floral items slowed after unprecedented growth between 1982 and 1989. Between 1989 and 1990, growth dropped to less than $500 million, which was one-half the rate of previous years. Americans...