The months of July, August and September have long been the prelude to the holiday selling bonanza at Harry & David.

As a major component of 1-800-Flowers.com, Harry & David's performances goes a long way in determining the Long Island, New York, floral and gift company's profitability. The company doesn't break out Harry & David's financial fortunes, but overall 1-800-Flowers narrowed its first-quarter losses to $13.2 million from $15.8 million a year earlier. Revenue declined to $157.3 million from $165.8 million, partially because 1-800-Flowers sold off its Fannie May unit.

With the Rogue Valley's pears in cold storage, holiday hires nearly finished and seasonal stores gearing up to augment online and catalog orders, CEO Chris McCann anticipates good things in the coming months after seeing food and gift basket sales grow 4 percent during the quarter.

“We saw an acceleration of the positive trends in our Harry & David business, which grew more than 5 percent for the quarter," McCann said.

The company stepped up digital marketing programs, improved navigational flow for Harry & David’s online gift list and increased focus on cross-brand marketing and merchandising programs.

“We began to see the benefits of these initiatives, among others, taking hold during the second half of last year as customer demand steadily increased from January through the summer," McCann said.

Harry & David is benefiting from an increased focus on everyday gifting occasions and seeing strong increases in sales for such occasions as birthday, sympathy, new baby, thank you and others.

"Customers are responding well to Harry & David’s enhanced marketing efforts and to its great line up of gifts for everyday gifting and entertaining occasions," McCann said. "As a result, Harry & David is positioned well for the key holiday season."

Gourmet foods and gift baskets revenue for the quarter fell to $61 million from $69.8 million a year ago. Gift baskets and other gourmet gifts are doing well on the wholesale market, as well.

— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness or www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31