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Holiday sales look better than expected, Florida retailers say

Holiday shopping (Capitol News Service)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – If you haven’t started your holiday shopping yet, you are in the minority, according to Florida retailers.

Scott Shalley, president of the Florida Retail Federation, said more than one of every two Floridians have already started their Christmas shopping, and it’s only going to get busier this weekend.

“Projections are that about 75% of shoppers will shop this weekend. You’ve got Small Business Saturday on the Saturday after Black Friday and then leading into Cyber Monday,” said Shalley.

Sales this year are expected to notch up about 4% over last year.

For retailer Geof Weldon, who owns the Shoe Box in Tallahassee, that’s welcome news, as brick-and-mortar stores fight back against increasing online sales.

“I think people sitting on a little money and actually willing to let it go this Christmas season,” Weldon said. “I am very confident in the economy right now.”

Adults, ages 30 to 50, are expected to spend $50 more than the $1,000 they spent last year.

The bump is a welcome surprise. There are fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, which caused dire predictions over the summer.

“There’s a lot of positivity out there. Projections are up over last year,” Shalley said.

And there are smiles, as well, at Nic’s Toggery, a family-owned clothing store.

“We tend to be profitable throughout the year, but we tend to make a good profit at Christmas and it’s a good time of the year for us,” said co-owner Victor Galvas.

Gift cards have been the top seller so far this season, with clothing and electronics not far behind.

Low unemployment, wage growth and overall high consumer confidence are getting credit for the increased holiday shopping.

Christmas sales account for about 20% of a retailer’s annual profit.