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A week from Christmas, Florida holiday shopping still on the rise

Shoppers go from store to store during the morning hours of Black Friday at International Plaza in Tampa on Black Friday 2017. (EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times)
Shoppers go from store to store during the morning hours of Black Friday at International Plaza in Tampa on Black Friday 2017. (EVE EDELHEIT | Times)
Published Dec. 18, 2018

Florida shoppers are on track to spend more money holiday shopping this year than they did in 2017, meeting — if not exceeding — the Florida Retail Federation's prediction.

The retail association expects the state to show at least a 4.5 percent increase in sales year over year in the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The group first made that prediction ahead of Black Friday last month.

"With so many positive economic indicators driving Florida's economy, particularly our 10-year low unemployment rate, we expected this holiday shopping season to be robust, and it's exceeding our expectations and those of our members," Florida Retail president Scott Shalley said in a statement.

Nationwide, holiday sales are up 4.3 percent. Shopping growth is up 5 percent over the whole year so far, according to the National Retail Federation.

The average shopper is expected to spend a record $1,007 on holiday shopping, according to the national retail group.

"We were worried about what the record high online spending during the Thanksgiving holiday stretch would mean for December," Shalley said, "but with stores full of shoppers and millions of online orders being filled each day, it looks like our strong start may be met with an equally strong finish."

Florida's retail industry employees about 2.7 million people and totals more than 270,000 businesses, according to the federation.

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.

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