Photo: Tampa Bay Times (2015)Shopping on Black Friday
Holiday Shopping Forecast Looks Bright fo Sunshine State Retailers
In spite of the impacts of Hurricane Irma on Florida, FRF is still predicting a 3-3.5% increase in sales over 2016, thanks to high consumer confidence, robust housing, a 10-yr low unemployment rate and 100+ million tourists
TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association celebrating its 80th year of representing retailers, announced today it expects holiday sales to increase 3-3.5 percent over last year, thanks to a healthy economy and a number of positive economic indicators.
“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. “Due to the increased competition among retailers, consumers should expect great deals and discounts as they enjoy the annual holiday shopping season with friends and family.”
The impact of Hurricane Irma on Floridians played a significant factor in the final forecast number for FRF. The storm caused damage in major population areas in Southwest Florida, South Florida and the Keys and the Jacksonville area. Many residents are still recovering and possibly unable to spend as much on holiday shopping this year. However, the overall strength of Florida’s economy and the resilience of the state’s retail industry will help make up for this 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.
Consumers are expected to spend an average of $967 on gifts, according to FRF’s partners at the National Retail Federation, which is up significantly from 2016’s average of $935 and higher than the previous record of $952 in 2015. This breaks down to $608 spent on gifts for family, friends and co-workers, $218 spent on decorations, flowers and greeting cards, and $141 spent by the shopper on themselves. Total spending is expected to increase to more than $678 billion, up from $655 billion last year thanks in part to the continued growth and spending of Millennials.
Consumer spending accounts for 75 percent of Florida’s gross domestic product totaling $155 billion each year. In particular, the holiday shopping season accounts for 20-40 percent of a retailer’s annual sales and steady year-over-year sales shows increasing economy stability. Florida’s retail industry totals more than 270,000 businesses which employ 2.7 million Floridians, and is responsible for one out of every five jobs.
One continued significant advantage that Florida enjoys over most other states is the influx of more than 100 million tourists, almost all of whom leave the state with more than they brought, bringing even more buying power with them. Surveys consistently list shopping as one of the top activities on the agendas of Florida vacations. And in an effort to attract shoppers of all types, retailers will be offering exclusive incentives, low prices, price-matching options, hot-selling toys and free shipping, which continues to be one of the most popular requested promotions each year.
“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.
Sunshine State shoppers will load up on the most popular items this year, led by 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. The most popular toys this holiday season will include Hatchimals, Toys from the new Star Wars and Justice League movies, Barbies and LEGOS, Nerf toys, and toys from Disney Junior shows.
One piece of advice to shoppers is if you see a good deal on an item early on in your shopping, make sure to buy it then as opposed to waiting and hoping for a better deal. Just as technology has made shoppers smarter and more savvy, it has also allowed retailers to better respond to demand by matching their inventory and not overstocking their merchandise. Speaking of early shopping, 40 percent of shoppers began their holiday shopping before Halloween to help spread out their spending with 29 percent complete by Black Friday.
“Retailers are responding to the demand by consumers to have the holiday shopping experience prior to the traditional late November/December timeframe,” said Shalley. “This is why consumers are already seeing holiday decorations and themes in stores, as retailers try to get shoppers in the Christmas shopping mindset earlier.”
One of the positive impacts of the holiday shopping season is the increase in employment. These jobs include workers stocking inventory, customer service, warehousing and even management. Nationally, the industry is expected to see between 500,000-555,000 seasonal jobs. The increase in hiring and the increase in economic activity during the holiday season have a positive impact on industries outside of just retail.
“The holiday season is a great time for new or returning professionals to enter the workforce as millions of temporary jobs turn into full-time jobs once the holiday shopping season is over,” said Shalley. “We look forward to the thousands of new jobs that families will have this year as a result of Florida’s retail industry.”
ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
Founded in 1937, 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. In fact, more than three out of four of Florida’s budget dollars come from retail-related activity.