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Retailers send plea to shop local

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 6:13 PM CST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - The pandemic has put Florida retailers in a precarious place.

Now they are asking everyone to shop local this holiday season or risk not having a place to shop in the future.

The pandemic has already taken a toll on how much shoppers are expected to spend this year.

Overall holiday spending is expected to be down an average of $50 per person, making a tough year for retailers even tougher.

It’s why the Florida Retail Federation is launching a “Find it in Florida” campaign.

“One in five jobs here in Florida is tied to the retail industry, and it’s been a tough year, so we’d like to see you support your neighbors,” said Retail Federation President Scott Shalley.

A survey from the National Retail Federation shows the drop in spending would be even worse, but fewer people traveling this year and are diverting their travel budget to gifts or goods.

Online sales have skyrocketed during the pandemic, and the retailers are okay with that, so long as the items are purchased from Florida businesses.

“You can go to the store; you can meet them at the curb, or you can even shop online . But if you shop online, we’re just encouraging you to shop with people who have businesses that have a Florida presence,” said Shalley.

Earlier this week, state lawmakers signaled they are likely to change a Florida law that requires internet buyers to voluntarily pay sales taxes.

Instead, they plan to require out-of-state retailers to collect the tax.

“They still owe the same tax. We just use the honor system to collect that tax. And I can assure the honor system doesn’t work very well,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson.

Retailers feel the move is vital to their survival.

“You know, we’ve always felt it critical for our local retailers to have a level playing field, but even more so now, its critical for the State of Florida,” said Shalley.

First they have to survive this holiday season, which normally accounts for about 20 percent of their annual revenue.

The National Retail Federation found consumers will spend slightly less on gifts and a touch more on decorations, but will cut spending on non-gift purchases by almost 30 percent this season.