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Despite Irma, Projections Show a Healthy Holiday Shopping Season

November 20th, 2017 by Jake Stofan
Holiday sales are expected to rise in the state this Christmas Season.
Florida retailers say record high tourism and record low unemployment are playing a big part.
This holiday season Florida retailers are predicting a 3.5% increase in holiday spending.
The growth is slightly below the 4% growth expected nationally.
“Florida usually follows the national predictions pretty closely or exceeds them.” said Communications Director of the Florida Retail Association, James Miller. “But due to hurricane Irma that hit southwest Florida, southeast Florida and the Jacksonville area near 3 really large population centers it’s going to impact those people’s ability to spend money this year.”
Despite post-Irma economic hardships, Floridians are still expected to spend, on average, a record $967 on holiday shopping this year.
A major contributing factor for increased spending is the state’s unemployment rate, which is  the lowest it’s been in a decade.
Shoppers we caught up with say their Christmas budgets are still lean.
“Well I’m supposed to be spending less. My husband is trying to retire,” said Tallahassee resident Betsy Hines.
“Of course it’s been a rough year as far as the hurricane and everything like that, but [I’m] just trying to save up more for 2018 I guess is the habit I’m trying to bring in now,” said Jacksonville native, Larry Mitchell.
But Floridians aren’t the only ones driving the increased spending.
The holidays are the peak time for tourism in South Florida.
State efforts to boost tourism after Hurricane Irma are helping according to the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.
“Here we had hurricanes and we’re still up, and so it’s getting the message out,” said Carol Dover, President of the Association.
The state saw record numbers of visitors for the third quarter in a row.
“You know, 100 to 120 million shoppers coming in each year, all of whom are leaving with more than what they came with, which is a great thing,” said Miller.
The Governor announced Monday a record 88.2 million tourists visited the state in the first 9 months of 2017.
The top gift for loved ones are gift cards, but Floridians are also expected to spend more on themselves this holiday season, about $141 on average.

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