Consumers in Florida will spend more this holiday season than last, and they'll shift more gift purchases online and to discount stores and special offers, two reports forecast Thursday.
The Florida Retail Federation predicted a 5.2 percent rise in consumer spending this holiday season, as the state recovers from recession and consumer confidence rises. Consumer spending in Florida by residents and visitors should reach $58 billion in November and December, up by $3 billion from a year ago, the group said.
"Shoppers in Florida are in a buying mood, and that's good news for the whole economy," Retail Federation President Rick McAllister said in a statement. "Florida retailers will create about 42,000 seasonal jobs this year to handle the crowds, and many of those jobs will become permanent."
A survey by travel group AAA also found one in seven respondents in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee plan to spend more on holiday gifts this year, up 40 percent from last year. While most respondents expect to spend the same, the total spent should rise overall, the survey showed.
The calendar is helping boost sales too, with more time between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.
"Thanksgiving is very early, so shoppers have an extra week to buy," said Bobby Johnson, chief operating officer of Hollywood-based BrandsMart USA. "They can still shop on Dec. 22-25, which is a four-day weekend."
Shoppers in Florida are changing how they buy this year too, turning more to the Internet, reports said.
Online purchases are expected to grow by 15 percent this season to an all-time high, likely about $3 billion of total consumer spending in November and December, the Florida retail group said.
Even if consumers don't order online, more are looking to their computers and mobile devices for coupons, deals and shopping information. To capitalize, retailers are launching new smartphone applications and using social media more to guide shoppers to deals, according to the federation.
AAA also found more shoppers seeking bargains, either at discount stores such as Target and WalMart or websites like eBay and Amazon.com, according to its survey conducted online in late October.
How much will the average shopper spend directly on gifts and not just their usual groceries or gas?
AAA found most respondents plan to spend between $251 and $1,000 on holiday gifts. The National Retail Federation figures an average $750 per shopper, up about $10 from last year.
Vanessa Bradshaw, 35, an after-school counselor from Boca Raton, illustrates the trends to spend more and try to stretch her budget. She recently waited in line in Miami Beach for the opening of Swedish retailer H&M to snag a gift card and look for affordable fashions for her sons, ages 16 and 12.
"My kids are really expensive, and everything goes up every year" in price, Bradshaw said. "More than likely, I'll spend more this holiday season than last year."
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