The main focus of the holiday season in Florida is “jobs, jobs, jobs,” said president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation Rick McAllister.
McAllister addressed a crowd at a press conference at the Governor’s Square Mall on Tuesday morning as he spoke about the holiday shopping forecast for 2011. One in four Floridians work in the retail industry, and the Federation
estimates that 35,000 seasonal jobs will be created in the weeks leading up to the busiest shopping period of the year.
The state stands to see an increase in sales between 3 and 3.5 percent higher than in 2010, while the national average increase is estimated at 2.8 percent. McAllister took note that the numbers were looking better following recent years of recession that Florida and the U.S. have experienced.
John Fleming, director of communications with the Florida Retail Federation, attributes Florida having a higher percentage increase than the national average to the number of people who visit the state.
“The fact that Florida has a strong seasonal traffic is part of what drives sales,” said Fleming. “When you look at how we compare nationally, it’s always a little bit higher.”
McAllister said the factors that have gone into making this year’s shopping season a success. He said that, over the past 18 months, consumer spending in Florida, and nationwide, has been up.
“Forty-two percent of those Christmas shopping will be doing so with price being their first consideration. The good news is that 48 percent are not shopping just because of price, but for service and quality merchandise,” said McAllister.
The average adult shopper is estimated to spend approximately $700 on holiday gifts for others, and also deviate from their set “to buy” lists and spend $130 to $150 on themselves.
The Florida Retail Federation offers a number of tips that would make for smoother holiday shopping. They include planning a budget and a time to shop in order to coincide with incoming wages. The Federation also advises consumers to take advantage of large shopping days such as Thanksgiving and Black Friday. They also advise finding sales in the extended time frame that most retailers will be open, and to not wait when crossing paths with an item that piques shopping interest.