Florida Retailers Look For Steady Growth In Holiday Gifting

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By: Emily Johnson
November 15,2013

Tallahassee,FL - This morning the Florida Retail Federation unveiled the holiday shopping forecast for this holiday season and it looks sunny. It projects sales will be up 3 to 4 percent this year. Gift cards are expected to be the most wanted on the gift list. "It is the number one item people are buying and it is the number one most people request," said Rick McAllister, Florida Retail Federation President. Also on the most popular gift list is: apparel, jewelry, toys and electronics. The Black Friday deals will start extra early this year with stores like Macy's and JC Penney opening up at 8P.M. and Walmart and Target opening their doors at 6P.M. Thanksgiving evening. "The truth is that the consumer wants to have more time to spread out their spending," said McAllister.

For one holiday shopper at the Governor's Square Mall, Alvin Peterson, he knows he can find the best deals on Black Friday. "You know I can come in here and get 10 things for a $100," said Peterson. When asked if he'll be partaking in the Black Friday frenzy this year, "I will be here, probably before the doors open I'll be here standing waiting in the line."

The Florida Retail Federation also said the holiday shopping season accounts for 20-40 percent of a retailer's annual sales, and the 100 million tourist expected to visit Florida this year will additionally make a big impact in holiday sales.

News Release: The Florida Retail Federation

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — As Florida retailers prepare for the busiest time of the year, they’re already checking off the top items on their holiday wish lists: lower unemployment, a rebound in the housing market, and booming tourism numbers. The Sunshine State’s key economic indicators point toward a bustling and prosperous holiday shopping season, despite congressional misbehavior that resulted in a government shutdown. The annual Holiday Shopping Forecast released by the Florida Retail Federation (FRF) is projecting a 3.5-4.5 percent increase in sales for the 2013 holiday season.

“Santa is going to be pretty busy delivering coal in Washington this year, but we are cautiously optimistic that Floridians won’t let the uncertainty manufactured inside the beltway tarnish their enthusiasm,” FRF President and CEO Rick McAllister said. “Unemployment is down; 401(k)s are up; and visitors are flocking to Florida. We have all the right ingredients for a holly, jolly shopping season.”

Consumer spending accounts for about 75 percent of Florida’s gross domestic product. According to McAllister, tourism is an important and often overlooked component of Florida’s consumer-based economy. The state is on track to hit the mark of 100 million visitors for 2013, and shopping is high on the list of their holiday agendas.

“People who come to Florida almost always take home more than they bring, and they aren’t limited to what they can fit into their suitcase,” McAllister said. “Retailers are finding all kinds of ways to increase their tourism sales — from discounted shipping to free suitcases.”

The holiday shopping season accounts for 20-40 percent of a retailer’s annual sales. Steady growth in year-over-year sales is a sign of increasing economic stability. Nationally, the average increase in holiday sales over the past 10 years is 3.3 percent. From year to year, gains vary widely among different segments of the retail market. In 2012, sales during November and December accounted for 24 percent of total annual revenue for department stores in the U.S. Toys, apparel, jewelry and electronics are typically the biggest drivers.

Speaking of electronics, technology will continue to expand its role in the overall holiday experience. Nationally, online sales are expected to grow by another 13-15 percent in 2013. Savvy consumers use technology to find out what products have the highest rankings in customer satisfaction and where they can go to get the best deals. Retailers are responding with their own technological innovations to improve the overall customer experience, including custom apps, mobile websites and in-store pickup of online purchases.

Technology is also increasing its share of the holiday gift budget. Many parents are saying electronics such as iPads, video games and game systems are the big-dollar items on the lists for Santa. But they still have to share space under the tree with the traditional toys that still top the lists for boys and girls — like LEGOs, Barbies, Hot Wheels and Disney Princess dolls and merchandise.

Early shopping is another key trend expected to continue in 2013. Even though the holiday shopping season is still officially defined as sales made during November and December, a whopping 40 percent of shoppers begin buying gifts and decorations before Halloween each year. Even more are likely to spend part of their Thanksgiving Day shopping this year.

“Despite some claims last year that retailers would ruin the holiday by choosing to be open for business, consumers showed that given the opportunity, they are more than happy to make shopping a part of their Thanksgiving Day activities,” McAllister explained. “It is a decision ultimately driven by customer demand, and it looks like Turkey Day shopping is here to stay.”

There is still no shortage of people perfectly happy to leave the shopping to others. The variety of gift cards available on the market continues to grow, and they will remain a big favorite for both givers and receivers. A survey by the National Retail Federation shows holiday shoppers spent more than $28 billion on gift cards in 2012, a record likely to be broken again in 2013.

The Florida Retail Federation is the statewide trade association representing retailers -- the businesses that sell directly to consumers. Florida retailers provide one out of every five jobs in the state, pay more than $49 billion in wages annually, and collect and remit more than $20 billion in sales taxes for Florida’s government each year. For more information, visit the FRF website, and follow FRF on Facebook and Twitter.

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