The U.S House of Representatives isn’t likely to pass legislation that would curb the spike in gas prices, but as Congress faces increasing pressure to address the energy crisis, it turns to the floral industry and the Society of American Florists (SAF) for insight, according to SAF.
Former SAF board member John R. Wilkins, AAF, executive vice president of Delaware Valley Floral Group in Sewell, N.J., testified in May before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce at its hearing “Gasoline: Supply, Price and Specifications.”
“Other than labor costs, perhaps no single factor has more power to impact the bottom line of floral businesses than the cost of fuel,” he said. See a summary of Wilkin’s testimony at www.safnow.org/Ebrief/testimony.pdf .
The Energy Department recently predicted April-through-September gasoline prices would average $2.62 a gallon for unleaded regular, which is a modest forecast, analysts say. SAF recently heard from florists who have taken extra means to cope with the gas hikes. Most retail florists (59 percent) have increased their delivery charges since January, according to results from an E-mail survey SAF sent to a random sample of 3,737 industry members.
David Johnson, owner of Watson’s Flower Shop, Mesa, Ariz., traded in his two Ford vans for two new Scion xB sedans last summer. Since the switch in October 2005, he has saved $6,094 in gas, which covers a 12-month lease for one of the Scions. Unhappy with this summer’s gas prediction, he won’t increase the $6.95 delivery charges until prices exceed $4 a gallon for regular unleaded (at press time, Johnson paid $2.75 per gallon).
In Melbourne, Fla., Tina Stoecker, AIFD, PFCI, of Design of the Times Florist also sees the savings in the Scions. Without the back seat, the cars hold the same number of arrangements as the old vans, she says. To help offset costs, Stoecker also is using FTD’s delivery routing module that verifies addresses, optimizes delivery routes and prints maps. At press time, she did not have an estimated dollar savings, but her deliveries increased by more than 20 per driver.