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Christmas just days away, and only 1-in-10 shoppers are ready

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With just eight days left until Christmas, retailers say only one in 10 shoppers have all their gifts wrapped and under the tree.

According to the Florida Retail Federation’s final consumer holiday spending survey, released Wednesday, the average holiday shopper is just over halfway down their list, and getting those last few gifts will come down to the wire for some — a third of shoppers said they plan to make their last holiday purchase by Friday, while 10 percent say they won’t be done until Dec. 23.

“Due to the large number of people with so much left to buy on their gift lists, it should make for a great finish to this holiday shopping season for retailers and consumers,” said FRF President and CEO Rick McAllister. “Retailers are responding to the demands of consumers by offering lower prices, which means a greater volume of sales overall, while shoppers win out by being able to purchase more for their dollar.”

About 45 percent of respondents reported holding back because they are still deciding what gift to buy, while 29 percent say their loved ones haven’t been clear on what they want and 22 percent are waiting for better deals. Another 20 percent said they were simply procrastinating.

FRF data show total retail sales, not including cars, gasoline or restaurants, are up 3 percent year over year, though that gain is balanced out by a 2.9 percent drop in prices compared to 2014 levels.

The trade group said part of the drop in prices was due to the end of a labor dispute that hampered West Coast ports, and the warm weather, which reduced demand for winter clothing.

Most consumers are also facing stagnant wages and higher health care and utility costs than last year, and even though gas prices are significantly lower, FRF said those savings are more likely to be spent on travel or dining than at retail.

Still, consumers aren’t shopping any less, their dollars are just going a little further.

“More than anything, perhaps, is that consumers have become conditioned to expect discounts and promotions,” McAllister said. “It’s important that all retailers recognize this changing dynamic and reflect this change in their prices to ensure a profitable finish to the holiday season.”

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

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