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Florida retailers expect boost in Christmas spending this year


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There is bad news for anyone annoyed when Christmas decorations start gracing the halls of retail establishments before kids have even said “trick or treat”: Nearly half of the consumers said they have started their holiday shopping before Nov. 1.

The survey by the National Retail Federation found that was the case among 43% of respondents.

“It’s clear that shoppers are already in the holiday spirit and in search of the perfect gift,” Florida Retail Federation President and CEO Scott Shalley said.

“Florida retailers are here to help. Your local retail stores are the best place to shop this holiday season with great products, excellent customer service, and holiday deals. When you choose to ‘Find It In Florida,’ you’re supporting local jobs and businesses this merry season.”

Most consumers who planned to start shopping early (60%) said they wanted to spread out their budget for the season. Another 46% of those early shoppers said they hoped to avoid the stress of last-minute shopping, while 45% said they wanted to avoid crowds.

Despite the high number of consumers planning to get a jump on holiday shopping, most consumers (62%) said they don’t expect to finish shopping until December.

Spending habits are expected to be up this holiday season, with survey respondents indicating plans to spend $875 on average on gifts, decorations, food and other seasonal items this year. That’s up $42 from last year. Respondents indicated that most planned spending ($620) will be spent on gifts, while consumers have $255 budgeted for other seasonal items such as decorations, candy or food.

And as consumers are building out their shopping lists for the season, it might be helpful to know this year’s gift trends. Gift cards are the top-requested item of the season, with 55% of respondents indicating that it was at the top of their wish list. Clothing and accessories followed at 49%. Books, video games or other media are also a top wish list item this year, at 28%. Among the top five are personal care or beauty items at 25% and experiential gifts at 23%.

Not surprisingly, home improvement items are toward the bottom of the list — husbands beware.

Consumers favor online shopping, with 58% of survey respondents saying they will turn to e-commerce this holiday season.

Other popular shopping destinations include department stores (49%), discount stores (48%), grocery stores (44%), clothing stores (32%), small businesses (24%), and electronics stores (20%). Craft, outlet and thrift stores all came in at less than 20% among survey respondents.

The Florida Retail Federation is promoting its “Find it in Florida” program, a grassroots campaign encouraging consumers to shop locally.

The Florida Retail Federation notes that when consumers shop locally, they support local businesses and jobs. Florida retailers account for 1 out of every five jobs in the state, generating $104 billion in annual economic impact, including more than $69 billion in wages each year. Additionally, Florida retailers collect and remit more than $20 billion in sales taxes to support public schools, roads and infrastructure.

More information about the campaign and ways to share on social media can be found online.

The Florida Retail Federation is the statewide trade association representing retailers, who support 3.6 million jobs in the state. Likewise, the National Retail Federation represents retailers nationally, educating consumers on the powerful impact of retail on local and global communities.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns and several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.