Disappointing Holiday Sales for Florida

After four straight years of slow holiday sales, the Florida Retail Federation foreshadowed a turnaround in 2012.

“We are predicting a healthy increase in sales this year,” said Rick McAllister with Florida Retail Federation.

The federation expected a 5.2% increase, but a new report shows a sluggish 0.7% increase in holiday sales nationwide. Florida should do slightly better, but we won’t know for months.

“Holiday sales are an important part of retail, and retail is an important part of the state fiscal picture,” said Rob Weissert.

Rob Weissert, Vice President of Research at Florida TaxWatch, says a slow holiday shopping season will impact the state budget. “Florida relies heavily on sales tax for funding general revenue and the operations of the government.”

That means everything, from teachers to the people fighting wildfires, depends on you shopping.

About three quarters of every dollar in the state’s general revenue fund comes from sales taxes.

Although the impact of the disappointing holiday shopping season won’t be known at the state capitol for months, it comes amid a predicted 400 million dollar budget surplus.

“There is a predicted budget surplus, but again those predictions tend to change,” said Weissert.

State economists will meet again before the 2013 legislative session in March and their estimates, including the holiday shopping figures, will have an impact on what lawmakers decide to fund.

Besides the impact the lackluster holiday shopping season will have on the state budget, it could also affect the job market. Many stores use the holiday season to recruit new talent from the seasonal workforce. Sluggish sales will likely mean fewer of those workers will land fulltime jobs.

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