Tallahassee, Florida - November 15, 2011 -
While preparing for the busiest shopping season of year, Florida retailers are reporting strong seasonal hiring in 2011. The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) is estimating that about 35,000 retail jobs will be added in the months of November and December in Florida. Overall, the retail industry supports about one out of every four jobs in Florida, and is the state's second largest employment industry.
"Santa is going to be busy this year, and he's hiring plenty of elves," said Rick McAllister, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. "For the past two years now, retail sales have been trending up. That's a sign that we're getting back to a normal growth cycle, and that has made retailers more confident in their hiring. We're looking forward to a strong holiday shopping season."
Overall, holiday sales are expected to increase from 3 percent to 3.5
percent in Florida, according to FRF. That is moderately better than the 2.8 percent U.S. forecast predicted nationally. Across the U.S., the average consumer will spend about $704 on holiday gifts and seasonal merchandise.
Florida Retail Federation President & CEO Rick McAllister lays out the holiday sales forecast during a press conference in Tallahassee on Tuesday, November 15, 2011.
"Florida has historically had a very robust retail economy, and for many years we have surpassed national growth," said McAllister. "There's a sense of momentum as we head into next year, and retailers are already aggressively advertising to get shoppers into the buying mood. Stores are discounting to keep the sales going, so there will be a lot of great bargains to be had next week."
In addition to discounting, another trend to watch will be a stronger focus on customer service and the shopping experience at retailers, McAllister said, as stores work to make the most of their customer traffic.
According to a national research report, sales and discounts (41.6%) are the main factor in consumers' value purchases, but customer service and quality of merchandise are becoming more important in consumers' decision making. Customer service has increased in importance (6.0% vs. 5.3% last year), along with quality of merchandise (14.6% vs. 12.7% in 2010).
"It's not all about bargain shopping. There's a reason why people call it retail therapy," McAllister said. "Consumers will make it a priority to
spend their hours shopping in a friendly atmosphere that makes their