Email insights: Florida is in for a very merry retail holiday season, says FRF

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Retailers should prepare for a very merry Christmas, so says the Florida Retail Federation, which is predicting 5 percent increase in sales for Florida during the “all-important holiday season.”

In fact, the FRF email suggested Florida would outperform the 2014 national forecast, which is about 4.1 percent over last year.

Consumer spending, according to the FRF email, accounts for nearly 75 percent of Florida’s gross domestic product, so any boost in holiday sales can be glad tidings for all Floridians.

Adding to the good holiday news is Visit Florida, who is reporting the state is on track for a record number of visitors — the third consecutive year. With 50.3 million visitors in Florida for the first half of 2014 – an increase of 2.7 percent – shopping is one of the top vacation activities. That results in a clear connection between tourism and having four of the top revenue-producing malls in the United States: Bal Harbour Shops and Aventura Mall in South Florida, followed by Orlando’s Mall at Millenia and the Orlando Premium Shops.

“Sunshine clearly puts visitors in the mood to shop,” said FRF President and CEO Rick McAllister. “Florida retailers can count on tourists who come to spend the holidays to take home much more than they bring.”

Since the holiday shopping season accounts for 20-40 percent of annual sales, the FRF says steady growth is a sign of improving economic stability. Furthermore, increasing consumer dependence on online sales, coupled with the state’s new requirement that Amazon collect and submit sales taxes on Florida sales, could mean a windfall of up to $80 million in revenue.

“Santa is continuing to see strong demand for the timeless favorites – from action figures, Hot Wheels, and LEGOs to Barbies, building sets and Princess dolls,” said McAllister. “A review of top items for girls this year indicates you can’t go wrong with pretty much anything from Disney’s latest animation hit ‘Frozen.’”

After a hard-fought election season, with Black Friday looming large on the horizon – any piece of economic good news is the best way to kick off the holidays in Florida.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.