FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 18, 2022
CONTACT: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (202) 680-9262

SB 944 Passed Its First Committee, Senate Commerce & Tourism, 9-0

Tallahassee, FL – The Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism unanimously passed Senate Bill 944, Online Marketplace Transparency, by Senator Dennis Baxley today during its first committee hearing. 

SB 944 is a priority of Florida’s retail industry. The legislation will inform and protect consumers from the sale of fraudulent goods in Florida while cracking down on organized retail crime. 

Currently, most online platforms do not require identification and are not monitored for criminal activity. As a result, these platforms have been misused by criminals to anonymously sell stolen merchandise and illicit goods to unsuspecting consumers in Florida. 

“Criminals are using the anonymity of online platforms to create fake accounts and sell counterfeit merchandise to take advantage of unsuspecting customers,” explained Senator Baxley.  “Florida can’t wait. We can be the trendsetter that is going to close the door on this type of encouragement of retail theft. We need to attack it at the systemic level which is the marketplace listings. People will behave differently if they know they are at high risk of being discovered. It’s time to close the door.”

The legislation would provide electronic and telephonic reporting and also require messaging to encourage individuals to report suspicious activity to online marketplaces.

During Tuesday's meeting, Grace Lovett, Vice President of Government Affairs of the Florida Retail Federation, testified in support of this legislation to promote safe online marketplaces for consumers and businesses. 

SB 944 and its companion, HB 1227 by Representative Jackie Toledo, is similar to the federal legislation known as the Integrity Notification and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces (INFORM) for Consumers Act. 

"Online marketplace transparency will not only inform and protect Florida consumers it will also support Florida businesses," said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. "Local retailers who have suffered at the hands of organized retail crime rings will be protected through this good legislation. We are grateful to Senator Baxley for spearheading this bill."

Both bills will ensure the safe purchase of quality goods online and aid consumers to identify and verify the third-party seller on online marketplaces. 

SB 944 is scheduled to be heard next in the Senate Committee on Community Affairs. 

ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
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.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 6, 2022
CONTACT: Amanda Bevis (202) 680-9262

Tallahassee, FL – Senator Dennis Baxley and Representative Jackie Toledo this session filed SB 944 and HB 1227 to prevent organized retail crime and inform and protect consumers from the sale of fraudulent goods in Florida. 

“The purchase of stolen goods poses significant safety threats and quality concerns for consumers,” said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “We are thankful for the leadership of Senator Baxley and Representative Toledo and their efforts to hinder illegal activity across online marketplaces. This legislation not only protects consumers but also inhibits organized retail crime.”

Online marketplace platforms have been misused by criminals to anonymously sell stolen merchandise and illicit goods to unsuspecting consumers in Florida. Currently, most online platforms do not require identification and are not monitored for criminal activity. As a result, the online marketplace has attracted organized criminal networks to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. 

“Unregulated online marketplaces have fueled the growth of organized retail crime rings,” stated Senator Dennis Baxley. “This legislation will punish those that seek to take advantage of consumers online. We must hold these criminals accountable.”

“Organized retail crime is a growing threat to communities around our country and we will not tolerate it here in Florida,” shared Representative Toledo. “This legislation cracks down on crime and provides consumer protections to Floridians when shopping online. With HB 1227, we will fight to terminate the online black market of criminals profiting off Floridians and Florida businesses. These criminals are often linked to other unregulated crimes including the illegal drug trade and human trafficking. With greater online marketplace protections, we can help to shut down criminal gang activity in Florida.”

The National Retail Federation released a 2021 survey stating that 69% of retailers saw an increase in organized retail crime over the past year. Sixty-five percent of retailers reported an increase in aggressive and violent gang activity than in years past. 

Florida businesses suffer thousands of dollars in losses and damage at the hands of growing criminal rings. Thieves utilize “smash and grab” and other violent tactics on retail storefronts. Local retailers are left with physical damage to storefronts and grave concern for the safety of employees and customers. 

Florida consumers who purchase stolen goods through online marketplaces find themselves victims of fraud. The products available through third-party sellers can come without a guarantee, may be expired, damaged, tampered or even counterfeit. 

SB 944 and HB 1227 will help ensure the safe purchase of quality goods online and aid consumers to identify and verify the third-party seller on online marketplaces.

SB 944 and HB 1227 will strengthen consumer protections similar to the federal legislation known as the Integrity Notification and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces (INFORM) for Consumers Act.

The legislation will require online marketplace sellers to provide basic contact information including: 

  • A valid email and phone number; 
  • A government-issued photo ID; or
  • Tax documentation with a physical address and tax identification number; and
  • Bank account information.

In 2021, Arkansas enacted similar consumer protections into law. More than a dozen other states are considering similar policies.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
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.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 23, 2021
CONTACT: Amanda Bevis (202) 680-9262

Tallahassee, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) announced today the top toys for this winter holiday season. A recent survey revealed that LEGOs and Barbie are the top two toys among boys and girls, this year according to the National Retail Federation. 

"For hot-ticket toys and anything else you need this season, 'Find It In Florida," said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “This is expected to be a record-breaking year.  Florida retailers are already stocked up and staffed up to help you check all the items off your list."

Many shoppers are already in the full swing of holiday shopping this year. Sixty-one percent of holiday shoppers have already started browsing and buying holiday gifts for their loved ones. That represents a 10% increase since 2011.

There's also been a significant increase in the amount of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers looking to take advantage of Black Friday savings and other holiday deals. Around 64% of shoppers plan to take advantage of in-store Black Friday deals, a 13% increase from only 51% in 2020.

In addition to shopping early, Florida shoppers are looking for key items to gift their friends and families this year. The top five items that consumers plan to purchase this holiday includes: 

  • Clothing - 53%
  • Gift cards - 46% 
  • Toys - 39%
  • Books, music, movies & video games - 35%
  • Food & candy - 31%

As the third most popular purchase, toys for the little ones are a top priority this holiday season. The hottest toys for girls and boys remain the same as in 2020, with Barbie and LEGOs as the most loved items for each category. 

The most popular toys for girls and boys of 2021, ranked, include: 

Girls

  1. Barbie
  2. Doll
  3. LOL Dolls
  4. LEGO
  5. Apple Products / Smartphone
  6. American Girl / Baby Dolls
  7. Apparel & Accessories / Frozen-related
  8. Disney / Disney Princess
  9. Beauty Products
  10. Nintendo Switch

Boys

  1. LEGO
  2. Cars and Trucks
  3. Hot Wheels
  4. PlayStation
  5. Video Games
  6. Nerf
  7. Paw Patrol
  8. Remote Control Car
  9. Xbox
  10. Pokémon

Florida's retailers began holiday preparations early this year by increasing their inventory and hiring seasonal workers early. 

"Florida’s retail industry has taken a proactive approach this holiday season to make sure Florida families have a peaceful and joyful holiday season," explained Shalley. "While you prepare for Thanksgiving sales, we ask that you remember to 'Find it in Florida' first. By shopping at businesses that have a presence here in the Sunshine State, you help support the Florida retailers that help create Florida jobs, and support Florida families and Florida's economy."

This holiday season, when shoppers "Find It In Florida" and shop local retailers, they help boost the local economy and support community businesses. Learn more about the "Find It In Florida" program at the website

For more information on the predictions of the National Retail Federation, visit: https://nrf.com/media-center/press-releases/thanksgiving-weekend-see-more-holiday-shoppers-last-year-and-consumers

ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
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.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION
The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, passionately advocates for the people, brands, policies and ideas that help retail thrive. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C., NRF empowers the industry that powers the economy. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, contributing $3.9 trillion to annual GDP and supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 52 million working Americans. For over a century, NRF has been a voice for every retailer and every retail job, educating, inspiring and communicating the powerful impact retail has on local communities and global economies.

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Tallahassee, FL – In honor of Veterans Day and the many active-duty and veteran U.S. servicemembers, the Florida Retail Federation (FRF) sheds a spotlight on retail store owner and Army veteran Mike Scobee. 

For Mike Scobee, family means everything to him. He credits his parents for raising him in a traditional American military family and the values they instilled in him. Scobee most admires his father, Sgt. Major Lloyd Scobee, who served 34 years in the Army and saw combat in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. 

"Without a doubt, I wanted to follow in my father's footsteps," shared Scobee.

After graduating high school, Scobee joined the Army and for 20 years, he served as a member of the infantry living in many parts of the world.

During his second year in the Army, Scobee knew he had to marry his high school sweetheart, Peggy. 

"My wife, she is my backbone," said Scobee.

While on leave from military duties, Scobee helped his brother out on construction of a new store. That store was Fisher Buggies, and Scobee soon found himself on a path to becoming a niche market retailer. 

Fisher Buggies is a specialized auto parts store that was opened in 1981 by Ken and Hilma Fisher. Their passion for restoring Volkswagens was a garage hobby that transformed into a successful business.

"Our service area of expertise is on vehicles from the 1950s through 1979," explained Scobee. "We don't work on anything past 1979."

Fisher Buggies helps area residents find parts on original bugs and buses. They also specialize in dune buggies.

When Scobee retired from the Army, he took a job with Fisher Buggies. He didn't look back once. 

Scobee worked his way up for Mr. Fisher for 22 years. When Mr. Fisher was ready to retire, he couldn't bear to sell his business to just anyone. He knew it had to go to someone with the same passion and work ethic, and that was Mike Scobee. 

So in 2016, Scobee and his son-in-law, Tony Eannottie, joined together as business partners and became the new owners of Fisher Buggies.

The seven-member team of Fisher Buggies is a close-knit one, comprised of family and top-notch mechanics. They focus on customer service and quality workmanship.

Scobee also focuses on supporting his fellow veterans and those who may not have found the same success. 

"As a veteran and small business owner, I feel blessed," shared Scobee. "I am one of the lucky ones. But we need to go and try and help the ones that haven't found that."

Scobee is a member of the VFW and the American Legion and participates where he can in special fundraising events. Fisher Buggies also offers all veterans and first responders a 10 percent discount on all auto parts. 

Scobee knows there is more to be done to help those struggling veterans who have served our great nation. 

The meritorious quality of Scobee is evident in his words and in the recognition he received during his own active-duty service. A recipient of the Bronze Star award and four Army Commendation medals, Scobee is a quiet leader with great compassion for others.

When asked about his retail philosophy, Scobee shared, "At the end of the day, if we do what we thought was right in order to take care of our customers and our team, we feel good about what we do." 

Fisher Buggies is one of many veteran-owned retail businesses in Florida that you can support while you shop local and "Find It In Florida." Visit their website or follow them on Facebook or Instagram for more information. 

Last year, the Florida Retail Federation launched the "Find It In Florida" campaign to spread public awareness on the importance of shopping locally. When Floridian shoppers "Find It In Florida", they are helping to keep doors open, boost the local economy and support their communities. 

Florida's retailers have continued to take proactive measures during the pandemic to provide consumers with safe access to meet their shopping needs, including safely shopping in stores, curbside pickup and online ordering options.  

ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
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.

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Contact Us

+1(850)222-4082
Florida Retail Federation
227 South Adams St.
Tallahassee, FL 32301
info@frf.org