Aus­ter­ity drive hits floristry busi­ness

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By YU RAN in Shang­hai yu­ran@chi­

Sales of fresh flow­ers fell in late 2013 through on­go­ing gov­ern­ment ef­forts to cut spend­ing, in­clud­ing on dec­o­ra­tions for the com­ing Spring Fes­ti­val and other ma­jor cel­e­bra­tions.

Traders say in­di­vid­ual cus­tomers have be­come the big­gest buy­ers of flow­ers, re­plac­ing State- owned com­pa­nies and gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, which nor­mally put in big or­ders for meet­ing venues and of­fices.

“Our main cus­tomers at the end of the year are in­di­vid­u­als who want to send flow­ers to friends or rel­a­tives as gifts or put them in their homes to wel­come another new year,” said Xu Wan­gli, a flower shop owner in Shang­hai.

Xu said the store no longer gets large or­ders from Staterun com­pa­nies, which used to buy flow­ers for an­nual par­ties.

Many flower stores now an­tic­i­pate a drop in an­nual in­come of up to 100,000 yuan ($16,490) com­pared with pre­vi­ous years.

“We used to rely on the 20 per­cent prof­its com­ing from the an­nual par­ties or­ga­nized by large com­pa­nies, with more than 20 or­ders val­ued at more than 3,000 yuan each, and many more or­ders priced around 1,000 yuan,” said Luo Jia, a saleswoman at Shang­hai Jun­qiang Gar­den­ing.

The more ex­pen­sive flow­ers, such as stre­li­teela and the kaf­fir lily, are not on in­di­vid­ual buy­ers’ shop­ping lists this year, she said.

To adapt to the chang­ing mar­ket, Luo said the shop has cut back on large flo­ral ar­range­ments and is fo­cus­ing on medium and small bunches for fam­i­lies and in­di­vid­u­als.

“Al­though or­ders from gov­ern­ment de­part­ments have dropped dra­mat­i­cally, per­son­al­ized or­ders from in­di­vid­ual VIP cus­tomers and other pri­vate com­pa­nies still ex­ist,” she added.

Mean­while, it seems most con­sumers are buy­ing less ex­pen­sive flow­ers th­ese days.

“I pre­fer buy­ing flow­ers at rea­son­able prices, such as lilies and roses, to dec­o­rate my apart­ment. Those lux­u­ries pack­ages are not re­ally suit­able for fam­i­lies,” said Wu Pengyuan from Shang­hai, who buys flow­ers reg­u­larly to put on his din­ner ta­ble.

With Spring Fes­ti­val ap­proach­ing, fes­tive flow­ers such as moth or­chids, nar­cis­sus and san­ders dra­caena (also known as lucky bam­boo) are sell­ing par­tic­u­larly well.

“The moth orchid has been the top seller in the shop for the past week be­cause it’s one of the best flow­ers for dec­o­rat­ing an apart­ment, with its bright col­ors and beau­ti­ful shape, mak­ing it pop­u­lar with fam­i­lies,” said Zhu Qian, another shop owner in Shang­hai.

The com­ing year is the year of the horse in China, and Zhu says the calla flower will prob­a­bly be a big seller, as the plant’s name be­gins with the Chi­nese char­ac­ter mean­ing “horse”.

To mark Lu­nar New Year, many in­di­vid­ual shop­pers will be look­ing for flow­ers sym­bol­iz­ing good luck and wishes for a happy fu­ture.

Re­tired busi­ness­man Chen Jin said send­ing flow­ers to friends and rel­a­tives is a wellestab­lished tra­di­tion in China, a way of shar­ing hap­pi­ness and good wishes, as well as wel­com­ing the new year.

“I bought san­ders dra­caena for my new apart­ment last year and I plan to buy the rare glossy gan­o­derma as a gift for my newly mar­ried daugh­ter,” Chen said.

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