FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 29, 2021

CONTACT: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (202) 680-9262

Governor Ron DeSantis Signs SB 72 into Law, Establishing Protections for Businesses Against Frivolous COVID-19 Claims & Lawsuits

Tallahassee, FL –  Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 72 into law today, which establishes COVID-19 liability protections for Florida businesses and health care workers. 

"The Florida Retail Federation is thankful to our Governor for his leadership and support for Florida retail businesses during this unprecendented time," says Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. "The COVID-19 pandemic has brought severe challenges to our retailers both small and large. But our Florida businesses have remained resilient in their recovery. They have reopened quickly and thoughtfully to safely serve their communities. With this bill signed into law, Florida retailers have the liability protection they deserve. We appreciate the leadership of Sen. Brandes and Rep. McClure for championing this key legislation." 

SB 72, Civil Liability for Damages Relating to COVID-19, will protect Florida businesses and health care providers who work in good faith to implement public health guidelines to prevent the spread of illness, from frivolous and unjust lawsuits. 

The legislation provides requirements for a civil action based on a COVID-19-related claim and provides that the plaintiff has the burden of proof in such action. The newly-signed law is effective immediately and applies retroactively. 

Florida retailers have gone above and beyond to protect their teams and their customers during the pandemic. To keep customers safe and healthy while shopping, retail store team members are taking appropriate health precautions to prevent the spread of illness. Many stores are offering alternatives to shopping in-store, such as curbside or delivery services.

To read SB 72, visit: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2021/72.

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
MARCH 29, 2021
CONTACT: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (202) 680-9262

Recent Sales Predictions Show Promise for Florida Retailers This Spring As Businesses Continue to Recover and Reopen

Tallahassee, FL –  The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) announced today that Florida retailers should expect a promising Easter season this year. According to a survey released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) last week, new data reveals that retail sales will break records for the spring holiday. Consumers plan to spend $179.70 on average this Easter, the highest figure predicted on record.

The survey reveals nearly 80 percent of Americans plan to participate in festive activities. Total spending is anticipated to reach $21.6 billion this year. The surge in purchases can be attributed to the urgency to embrace the holiday a year later after the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic paired with the most recent stimulus funds.

As COVID-19 vaccination efforts continue to expand, Americans are gradually becoming more comfortable gathering together again. The top Easter activities this year are: cooking a holiday meal (59%), visiting family and friends in person (43%), watching TV (43%), planning an egg hunt (31%), and attending church in person (28%).

"Florida retailers are here to meet all your needs for Easter celebrations to be as memorable as they are safe," says Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. "When you shop for candy, food, decor and other Easter items, be sure to 'Find It In Florida' and support local businesses." 

Shoppers plan to visit discount stores, department stores, online retailers, local specialty shops and small businesses for all their spring holiday goods. About 35% of consumers plan to purchase their Easter items online, up from 28% last year.

The top Easter items that Florida shoppers plan to purchase include: 

  • Candy - 89%
  • Food - 88%
  • Gifts - 64%
  • Greeting cards - 50%
  • Decorations - 48%

While not everyone will be participating in Easter festivities this year, about 52% of shoppers still plan to take advantage of the holiday-related sales, spending on average $21.11. 

Florida retailers remain committed to offering shoppers a variety of safe and convenient methods to fulfill their Easter shopping lists.

  • Visit: Visit your local retailer to shop in-store. 
  • Buy Online: Find your favorite Florida retailer online to select what you need for pickup in-store. 
  • Curbside or Delivery: Call your local retailer to place an order for curbside pick-up or delivery, where available.

As many local retailers continue to reopen and recover from the shutdown of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FRF would like to remind shoppers to "Find It In Florida." When Floridians 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/average-easter-spending-expected-be-highest-record

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
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.  

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 26, 2021
CONTACT: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (202) 680-9262

This Women's History Month, the Florida Retail Federation Features Retail Industry Leaders, Debbie Harvey & Michele Goodwin

Tallahassee, FL – For Women's History Month, the Florida Retail Federation (FRF) is highlighting two women making waves in retail at Ron Jon Surf Shop.

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Meet Debbie Harvey and Michele Goodwin. 

Debbie Harvey, the current president and COO of Ron Jon Surf Shops, is set to retire this year. Michele Goodwin, the current Vice President of Retail Operations and Human Resources, is set to succeed Harvey. 

Though these women share different retail backgrounds, their experience in the industry is unmatched. 

Debbie Harvey is a retail industry leader. After graduating from the University of Florida, Harvey gained experience at other Florida retail companies including, Maas Brothers, Bealls and HSN, before serving the Ron Jon team. During her 20-plus year tenure, the Ron Jon team expanded from four locations to 12 stores while ensuring the integrity of the brand and their business model remained strong.

Much like Harvey, Goodwin has spent her career working in the retail industry. Goodwin is a Cocoa Beach native who joined Ron Jon in 1986. She began working in Ron Jon's retail store while attending the University of Central Florida. Goodwin diligently worked her way up the ranks. She spent time in the marketing and human resources department and began taking on larger roles before working on in-store operations. 

"When I joined, it was a very exciting time for Ron Jon, they were just starting to grow," said Goodwin. "I was surrounded by a lot of great people. It was never boring. We've been growing, changing and doing new things."

Ron Jon Surf Shop began in 1959 when founder Ron DiMenna was in search of a custom surfboard in New Jersey. DiMenna purchased three from California after his father offered entrepreneurial advice, "Buy three, sell two at a profit, then yours will be free." From there Ron Jon Surf Shop was born. DiMenna quickly opened two stores in Long Beach Island, New Jersey, and Cocoa Beach, Florida.

Today, Ron Jon Surf Shop is a privately-owned company, headquartered in Cocoa Beach. Both Harvey and Goodwin have continued Ron DiMenna's entrepreneurial spirit with their own business acumen and strategy. 

The company has grown drastically since 1959, now operating 12 stores in five different states. Ron Jon licensed partners also operate stores in several airports as well as two international locations. But the reach of Ron Jon Surf Shop spans even further.

"Ron Jon's name and brand recognition are much larger than our company," said Goodwin. "People see Ron Jon stickers everywhere. I think it's a real testament of good marketing, having a brand be recognized larger than it is."

Harvey credits their team of 400 employees to ensure their physical locations are more than just a store. The Ron Jon store teams ensure that customers feel welcome and have a fun and unique experience when they visit.

"Everyone here has a common goal," stated Harvey. "All of us work hard and enjoy our jobs. We are really adamant about the Ron Jon brand and making sure we exceed customer expectations. There's no typical day at Ron Jon Surf Shop."

Harvey's words carried even greater weight when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. As with many retail businesses, Ron Jon Surf Shop temporarily shut its doors last March. 

"That was really unchartered territory for us," said Goodwin. "For the past 35 years, Ron Jon only closed for a day or two at a time if there was a hurricane headed our way. The unknown was the scariest part."

As Florida began to slowly reopen, people across the state began to spend more time at the beach as a safe option to go outside the home. 

The Ron Jon team reopened to meet the demand but with appropriate health and safety measures in place. To ensure the health and safety of employees and customers, the Ron Jon team installed plexiglass barriers, regularly sanitized the store and high touch areas, kept limited capacity in-store and positioned employees at the door to ensure customers were complying with mask ordinances. 

"We were very happy we had business come back. We truly did not know how many people would return," said Harvey.

What Ron Jon did not expect, was the surge of customers. 

"We weren't sure what reopening was going to look like," stated Goodwin. "We were actually a little overwhelmed; we went from zero to 100, but we were able to safely manage the influx of customers because of our great team. We listened to our team and learned about what was going on in the field. As a result, we were able to make decisions quickly and pivot to meet our customers' needs and maintain safety."

While Harvey and Goodwin were relieved by the return of customers to storefronts, the urgency to support local businesses after a pandemic shutdown was evident.

"Florida businesses hire your neighbors and my neighbors," Harvey explained. "It's important to keep these people employed. For many business owners, it is their life's work; they've devoted their entire life to their business. It's important to get back to a place where they can be competitive and sustain themselves, their business and their employees."

"It is very, very important whether big or small, to support Florida businesses that are employing fellow Floridians and creating economic growth within the state and our communities."

As Harvey prepares for retirement, she expresses she is thrilled to be passing on the torch to Michele. She is most proud of the company and culture that has been built.

"Michele has a true sense of Ron Jon," said Harvey. "She knows our customers, who our employees are and what the company culture is. She knows our people and has a really unique understanding of the company. She's seen the company grow from a smaller operation to a larger company."

Goodwin looks forward to upholding the traditions of Ron Jon Surf Shop while moving the company and operation into the future. 

"For a company that has been around as long as we have, you have to honor what came before," Goodwin affirmed. "But for a company to continue, you have to keep evolving and rethinking what the business looks like while maintaining that homage to the past. We have a name brand and reputation that people get very nostalgic about. You don't want to lose that as we move into the next decade. That is the fun part."

Ron Jon Surf Shop is one of many retail businesses in Florida that you can support while you shop local and "Find It In Florida." Visit the website or follow them on FacebookTwitter 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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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 22, 2021

CONTACT: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (202) 680-9262

Scott Shalley Joins Business Panel Discussion at Senate Select Committee on Pandemic and Preparedness Response

Tallahassee, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) participated in a panel discussion on Monday before the Senate Select Committee on Pandemic & Preparedness Response to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on Florida's retail industry over the past year.

Scott Shalley, the president and CEO of the FRF, discussed the retail industry's hardships and transformation and explained the ongoing challenges retailers face.

"The pandemic has no doubt had a permanent impact on the retail industry," said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the FRF. "Almost immediately, there was a massive shutdown. As the realities of COVID-19 set in, [there were a number of other impacts to retail]: the panic buying of products, the search for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), massive unemployment, and the massive loss of sales and related revenue."

The Florida retail industry represents more than 274,000 businesses in Florida and supports nearly 3 million jobs.

The forced closure of stores had a real impact on jobs tied to retail. Nationally, retail sales fell 16.4% in the month of April 2020. According to Bloomberg News on April 2, over 1 million retail workers were furloughed.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis adopted a science-driven approach that allowed businesses to safely reopen and workers to get back to work.

"I think to see the level of shut down that has taken place in other states would have been absolutely devastating to our [retail] businesses," stated Shalley.

"[Governor DeSantis] recognized that it's not what you shop for, it's how you shop. It's how do you behave when you're out in public, are you following CDC guidelines, can we incrementally get people back to work?"

Florida retailers implemented health and safety measures recommended by the CDC, requiring masks for employees and customers, routinely sanitizing stores, implementing social distance measures and more.

To support Florida retailers' efforts to reopen and ensure they could remain open, the FRF focused on keeping them informed of shifting local government regulations. More than 160 different county and city mask ordinances were tracked, reported and updated by the FRF to help members stay in compliance with requirements.

"If we [follow guidelines], we stay open," said Shalley. "We keep people employed. We sell products and continue to thrive in this evolving environment."

The retail industry did more than follow guidelines and restrictions, it transformed over the last year by accelerating the adoption of new technologies. Retail stores launched new purchasing avenues, including online, curbside and delivery services.

Retailers have also been crucial to the distribution and administration of COVID-19 tests and vaccines.

"Our chain pharmacy members have done a phenomenal job of playing a very pivotal role in the vaccine administration," said Shalley. "Moving forward, we'd like to see a continuation legislatively of the rules that were adopted by [U.S. Department of Health & Human Services] and by the state's Executive Orders."

Florida businesses have proven once again to be resilient and adaptive. Yet one year later, challenges remain.

The Florida businesses that in good faith implemented the appropriate health and safety guidelines face significant liability risks. In addition, Florida's current sales tax system leaves local retailers at a disadvantage when competing with out-of-state businesses that are not required to collect and remit sales tax.

Thankfully, legislation in both chambers will help alleviate these burdens.SB 72 and HB 7will protect retail businesses from frivolous COVID-19-related lawsuits. SB 50 and HB 15 will require online and out-of-state retailers without a physical presence in Florida to collect and remit sales tax to the state.

"There is a great sense of optimism," stated Shalley. "We look forward to continuing to grow and serve the state of Florida."

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