Culture

Flower businesses are blooming thanks to COVID-19

A floral arrangement can convey all sorts of sentiment. In the ongoing pandemic, these flowers have helped people celebrate — and console — their loved ones.

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The flower delivery service industry is blooming in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Thursday, 1-800-Flowers announced it hit record revenue and profit in its fourth quarter of 2020. It boasted a 61.1 percent increase in its total net revenue. We're talking the business making $254.9 million in the same quarter in 2019 to making $418 million this year.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first became clear to the world in March, flower businesses around the world initially struggled with selling their gorgeous tulips, chrysanthemums, roses, peonies, lilies, and countless other types of flowers. It was a grim sight to see these bouquets being destroyed as consumer traffic rapidly decreased under lockdown and social distancing orders. One particular Dutch flower auction detailed scenes of tulips and chrysanthemums being thrown away and crushed to waste.

For those — like yours truly — who adore flowers, their histories, their differences by region, the cultivation that goes into raising these strange beauties, the art of gifting them, and the economy surrounding the upkeep of various gardens, it was tragic. Things though have started to look up. Today, even with the pandemic going on, flower businesses have adapted to the volatile landscape — much like the delightful golden poppy thrives in the Californian heat — and become an adaptive language to express a variety of emotions: joy, romance, love, hurt, longing, yearning, and of course — with at least 180,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States alone and the loneliness that has come with quarantine — condolences.

A lifeline — In a report by Business Insider, some have attempted to explain just why these flower businesses are doing well in a time when COVID-19 has hit some industries incredibly hard and endangered their financial viability.

Katie Butler, who is the vice president of the Society of American Florists, told the outlet, "I think that flowers are throwing consumers a lifeline of sorts — a way to connect and communicate and truly make an impact on your own or a loved one's mood in a way that is otherwise not accessible, due to social distancing." Given that many of us have not been able to celebrate with our loved ones — for example, I missed my younger sibling's wedding as lockdown went into effect — flowers have become a tender proxy for expressing conflicted feelings of ache, love, and the human need to be with our friends and family.

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A balm on the nerves — In addition to being visually striking, research indicates that flowers have a soothing effect on stressed minds — which seems like a reprieve millions could use right now as they struggle with isolation, loneliness, and depression.

As consumers get comfier with making purchases for bouquet deliveries online, businesses are converting at increased rates as high as 15 percent compared to last year, Business Insider notes. It's one of the bittersweet developments to come out of an otherwise jarring, confusing, and alienating pandemic. And it's not one we entirely mind. More flowers, please.