Florida retailers seem pleased with the start of the holiday shopping season.
It started with Black Friday, which actually started before Friday. Then came Cyber Monday.
“Via anecdotal conversations with large and small retailers and research we’ve seen, everyone seems happy with the turnout, whether it be via in-store or online,” said James Miller with the Florida Retail Federation (FRF).
FRF has predicted a 3-3.5 percent increase in sales this holiday season in Florida.
“There may have been slightly smaller crowds, but that was more than made up for via online sales,” Miller added. “Lots of our small retailers were very happy with the turnout in their stores. Cyber Monday is slated to be the biggest one ever, so all of these signs point to a very strong start to the retail season.”
The holiday shopping season accounts for 20-40 percent of a retailer’s annual sales. The National Retail Federation estimates consumers will spend an average of $967 on gifts this year. That’s an increase of $32 per person over last year’s holiday shopping numbers, and $15 more than the record-setting sales year of 2015.
“This season should be another strong one for our retail members, thanks to a 10 year low unemployment rate, a strong housing market, high consumer confidence and 100 million tourists leaving with more than what they came with,” said FRF President/CEO Scott Shalley.
Shalley says Hurricane Irma played a “significant factor” on the holiday shopping forecast for Florida this year. Irma caused damage in major population areas across most of the state and many residents are still recovering. But FRF says the overall strength of the state’s economy and the resilience of the state’s retail industry will help offset the potential loss of sales.
“Hurricane Irma hit our state extremely hard, particularly in these areas, and we factored in this impact in our forecast, but we feel the overall strength of our economy and the incredible recovery efforts that have taken place will help lessen the impact on retail sales this holiday season,” said Shalley.
Being a popular tourist destination gives an added boost to Florida’s holiday shopping figures. Surveys consistently list shopping as one of the top activities on the agendas of people who come to Florida for a vacation.
“Tourism continues to be a powerful influence on the success of Florida’s economy and specifically the retail industry, and 2017 is expected to set a new record on number of tourists which is great news for our members,” said Shalley.
The popular items on people’s shopping lists for this holiday season are gift cards for the 11th year in a row, followed by clothing and accessories, books, movies or music, electronics, home décor and furnishings and jewelry.