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Florist Population Takes Biggest Dive in 12-year Descent

Both retail florists and employees of such establishments are seeing their numbers continue to drastically decline, according to the latest count from the U.S. Census Bureau.
 
2008 marked the twelfth straight year of drops, according to the agency’s recently released County Business Patterns. The population fell to 18,509 in 2008, a 6.3 percent decline from the year prior — the largest drop since a 4.6 percent drop off in 2003.
 
 



The last time the population of florists increased was 1996, when the count stood at 26,728. Since then, 8,219 establishments have disappeared, a loss of 31 percent.
 
In 2008, almost 90,000 paid employees worked in florist shops. At two-thirds of the shops (12,000), four people or less were employed. A quarter employed five to nine employees, and only 11 percent had 10 or more staff members. That works out to an average of 4.8 employees per shop – a figure that has exhibited little variability over the years. Staffing levels averaged just more than five people per shop between 2000 and 2004, before retreating to just shy of that level in 2005; where it has stayed.
 
 



State of the Business. With 1,613 florist businesses, California led the nation and employed 7,575 individuals. New York was No. 2 with 1,272 shops and 5,470 employees. Rounding out the top three is Texas with 1,205 and 5,545 employees. The District of Colombia had the fewest number of shops. Its 39 establishments employed 258 staff, though some states with more florist businesses had fewer employees: Alaska (41 shops; 211 employees) and Vermont (63; 231). Data on all 50 states can be found here.
 
The data show that almost 7,000 (37 percent) retail florist establishments were sole proprietorships. S-corporations accounted for 6,200 businesses (34 percent), followed by corporations, partnerships and a few nonprofits.
 
 



For an explanation of the types of organizational structures, click here.
 
For those businesses staffed by just the owner, County Business Patterns includes a separate survey for businesses with no hired employees. Most are self-employed individuals operating small, unincorporated businesses.
 
For a definition and explanation of Census Bureau terms and methodology, click here.
 
Additional data by metro area and zip code can be found here.
 
 
— Ira Silvergleit
isilvergleit@safnow.org