Fleuriot Fleurs probably won’t see a rush of customers when it opens on Monday for the first time since Switzerland went into lockdown. But manager Louise Barradi doesn’t have time to worry about a slow pickup just yet.
“We have been under water, we have had so many deliveries,” she said.
The Geneva-based florist has received about 200 orders a day from online customers during the month-old shutdown, with the best sellers being tulips and peonies. One client even spent CHF 1,500 to spruce up their home.
Online sales have proven to be a vital channel for many florists to offset losses from the closure of big clients like restaurants and hotels. Those businesses will remain closed Monday as Switzerland begins relaxing its coronavirus control measures.
Blumen Schipfe, in Zurich’s city center, has been online for over two decades. Most of its orders now come from regulars who either phone in or e-mail in their orders.
“Business has been incredibly good,” said owner Martin Abplanalp. “People are in absolute need of something colorful on their tables during the lockdown.”
Switzerland is home to about 1,500 florists employing some 5,000 people, according to estimates from florist.ch. Urs Meier, who heads the association, says the pandemic will hit the smaller players the hardest.
“Those who have not taken advantage of their opportunity to deliver, and who have not gained new sales channels and customers, will have a difficult time,” he said. “The economic situation of small and medium-sized flower shops has been precarious for a long time.”
BlütenBlatt in Lucerne won’t be opening on Monday. Owner Priska Trautwein says it’s not economical because the store is too small to safely accommodate many customers. She, too, has had to rely on online orders to keep the business going, delivering more than 200 orders over the Easter weekend.
A fresh start
Florist.ch has set out guidelines for florists opening their doors on Monday. This means practicing social distancing of two meters in the waiting area, limiting one staff member to every 10 square meters, and having a protective screen at the checkouts. It also includes putting up health posters and providing disinfectant for customers and employees.
Fleuriot Fleurs will start with a slimmed-down workforce—from 45 to about 15 people. It plans to offer more plants for exteriors next week, as people spend more time on their terraces and balconies.
“We do not expect very many customers, at least for the time being,” Meier said. “This is contrast to DIY stores and garden centers, where I think that a lot of customers will turn up.”