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Economic Slump Bad Omen for Holiday Shopping?

November 2nd, 2007 by flanews

New numbers show bad news for Florida’s economy.  Consumer spending has been declining every month since last November.  It’s the first time that sales tax collections have been down 12 straight months since 1992.  But as Chris Casquejo tells us, retailers remain hopeful for the holiday season.

Hear it here: Economic Slump Bad Omen for Holiday Shopping?

Florida sales tax collections in September were off by 41 million dollars from the same time last year.  Collections have been below estimates for the last 12 months.  Despite the bleak numbers, Nashon Williams, who sells TVs and appliances, is optimistic about the weeks ahead.

“It’s time for Christmas, it’s time for the holidays and a lot of people want things for their home,” Williams said.  “It is down for the year, but we do believe we will do well.”

The holiday season is still weeks away.  But many stores already have deals that they wouldn’t normally offer until after Thanksgiving.

Stores are counting on customers like Tia Vaughn, who’s not planning to pinch pennies this year compared with last.

“Probably more because I have a child,” Vaughn said.  “The older she gets, the more expensive she gets.

But the big picture for the state isn’t so bright.  The Florida Retail Federation projects holiday retail sales will grow by only 3 percent.  Rick McAllister, the president of the Retail Federation, believes customers buying for themselves are key.

“When we’re out shopping, there’s an item that we want, that we’d like to have,” he said.  “And so we buy it, too.  Will they do that this year?  I don’t know.  That’s going to be the question.”

Slow sales have already resulted in the state cutting its budget once.  And more cuts may be on the horizon.

Some economists predict Florida’s economic slowdown could last through the fall and early next year.

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