For Immediate Release: November 14, 2018
FRF predicts a 4.5% increase in sales over 2017 due to low unemployment, high consumer confidence and record-breaking tourism
TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association representing retailers for more than 80 years, is predicting a very bright sales season for Florida retailers and expecting holiday sales to increase 4.5 percent over 2017. This is due to numerous positive statewide economic indicators including the lowest unemployment rate in more than a decade, strong consumer confidence, record-breaking tourism and more shoppers with more money to spend.
“Holiday shopping is vital to the success of Florida’s retail industry and we are excited about the continued growth in sales for 2018,” said FRF President/CEO Scott Shalley. “Florida’s 270,000 retail establishments are encouraged by our robust economy and poised to offer great deals and an enhanced shopping experience. There has never been a better time to shop for family and friends.”
Consumers are expected to spend a record $1,007.24 on gifts this holiday season according to FRF’s partners at the National Retail Federation, which is up considerably over 2017’s total of $967, which was the previous record. Shoppers will spend in three main categories during the holidays:
- Gifts – $637.67
- Non-gift holiday items (food, decorations, flowers, etc.) – $215.04
- Gifts for themselves – $154.53
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.
Tourism continues to play a vital role in the success of Florida’s retail industry and this year’s record-breaking number of visitors will make a significant impact on the bottom line of retailers. FRF’s partners at VSIT Florida recently announced that more than 120 million tourists are expected in 2018, which means tens of millions of extra shoppers, 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 continue offering exclusive incentives, low prices, price-matching options, hot-selling toys and free shipping.
“Florida’s tourism industry provides an enormous boost to our retailers and we celebrate the continued increase in visitors to the sunshine state,” said Shalley. “From mementos of their trip, to Florida-themed gifts, clothing and more, tourists play a key role in supporting our retail industry.”
Holiday shoppers are planning to spread their shopping across multiple channels and types of stores: An equal number (55 percent) will shop online and in department stores while 51 percent will go to discount stores, 44 percent to grocery stores, 33 percent to clothing stores and 24 percent to electronics stores. The mix of channels was further evident with 50 percent of those shopping online saying they will pick up their purchases in-store. Of online shoppers who want the package to come to their home or office, 94 percent will take advantage of free shipping, 16 percent will choose expedited shipping and 11 percent will use same-day delivery.
Most holiday shoppers (60 percent) are waiting until at least November to begin browsing and buying items for the season. However, 21 percent planned to start in October and 18 percent said they began in September or earlier. Of the early shoppers, 61 percent said they were trying to spread out their budgets while 47 percent wanted to avoid the crowds and stress of last-minute shopping.
Sunshine State shoppers will load up on the most popular items this year, led by gift cards for the 12th year in a row (requested by 60 percent of those surveyed), followed by clothing and accessories (53 percent), books/movies/music (37 percent), electronics (29 percent), home décor (23 percent), jewelry (22 percent), personal care or beauty items (19 percent), sporting goods (18 percent) and home improvement items (17 percent).. The most popular toys this holiday season will include Pomsies, Fur-Real Pets, the Fortnite Version of Monopoly, Hatchimals, perennial bestsellers like Barbies and LEGOS, Nerf toys, and anything that has a big brand name behind it, like Fortnite, "Harry Potter," or "Jurassic World.
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 completely done by Black Friday.
While sales and discounts remained the largest factor in choosing a particular retailer, cited by 71 percent, quality and selection of merchandise were the next-largest factor (cited by 60 percent), followed by free shipping (47 percent) and convenient location (45 percent).
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 seeking more than 650,000 seasonal employees. However, due to the lowest unemployment rate in more than a decade, retailers may have a difficult time meeting their hiring goals, as the pool of eligible applicants shrinks and they compete with other businesses like hotels and restaurants who all compete for similar customer-service-based experience.
“We expect shoppers to continue to shop at brick-and-mortar retail stores, and these companies will need employees who can provide great customer service and create loyalty to their brand,” said Shalley. “If you’re a seasonal job seeker you are in a great position, as retailers and the hospitality industry will all be competing to hire you by offering perks like increased hours, gift cards, revenue sharing and focusing on the culture within their organization.”
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.