1. Business

Here's why the holiday shopping season is so important for Florida's small retailers

Keep St. Pete Local is an independent business alliance in St. Petersburg that has more than 600 members. Many of the local stores hope to see a bump from Small Business Saturday. Photos courtesy of Keep St. Pete Local
Published Nov. 21, 2018

You probably know that many small retail businesses rely on the holiday shopping season to survive.

Just how important is it? Consider this:

In 2017, the best shopping day of the year was Black Friday, which brought in a little more than $3,000 in sales for the typical small retailer in Florida, compared to $1,706 for an average day.

Dec. 22 ranked second. Dec. 23 came in third. In fact, nine of the top 10 shopping days fell between Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to some intriguing research from Womply, a provider of small business software.

The firm's number crunchers studied the daily transaction records of 54,000 small, independent retailers across the nation, including 3,691 in Florida. Most of them had 10-25 employees and just one location.

MORE BUSINESS: Dear Amazon, Why don't you love Tampa Bay?

They broke the data down by revenue, the number of transactions and the average amount customers paid per transaction. In Florida, for instance, small retailers averaged $60,970 in December, slightly higher than the national average and $22,000 more than in September, the worst month.

While many days during the holiday season ranked in Florida's top 40, Small Business Saturday came in at 106th. Cyber Monday came in at No. 45.

Even so, "the end-of-year holiday rush is, without a doubt, the single biggest money-making period for retailers across the country, as well as for retailers in Florida," the report concluded.

Beyond the holiday trends, the report delved into how we shop during the rest of the year, including how the days of the week have their own personalities. Saturdays boasted the most transactions on average -— about 17 — but Fridays brought in slightly more money, a little less than $2,100. Sundays were the slowest for both transactions and revenue.

TRANSPORTATION: $35 million bike path planned for Howard Frankland Bridge.

Tuesdays were on the slower end in total sales, but people who did shop that day spent $142 per purchase, more than any other day of the week.

It's a recurring trend in the report: Shoppers often spent more per purchase on the least busiest days. In addition, they spent less per purchase on the days that retailers made the most money. Sales and other deals explain some of the difference. Another factor: When shoppers plan to stop at several stores, they spend less at each store, but more overall.

The two best weeks were the ones leading up to Christmas, similar to many other states. Florida's third best — Feb. 26 - March 4 — was an outlier, for which you can thank Florida's popular late-winter tourist season.

Tourism helped Florida's small retailers outpace the national average for sales in most months. The influx of guests throughout the year also helped take some of the burden off of the holiday season, compared to states that attract fewer tourists.

Some other fun facts from the report:

— St. Patrick's Day was the 17th best sales day for small retailers in 2017, better than Valentine's Day (44) or Cinco de Mayo (61).

— Mother's Day (348) ranked slightly higher than Father's Day (354).

— Some small businesses close early on Christmas Eve, which helps explain why it came in at No. 301.

— Thanksgiving Day was super slow at No. 360, only slightly better than Christmas Day at No. 364.

— Bringing up the rear: Sept 10, the day Hurricane Irma roared ashore, shutting down a large swath of the state.

Contact Graham Brink at Follow @GrahamBrink


  1. Port Tampa Bay president and CEO Paul Anderson. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times (2017)]
    Port commissioners approved the raise after a year with milestone achievements on several fronts.
  2. A rendering of the proposed Edge Collective in St. Petersburg's Edge District. Storyn Studio for Architecture
    The "Hall on Central'' will be managed by Tampa’s Hall on Franklin team.
  3. Mango Plaza in Seffner has sold for $12.49 million. The plaza is anchored by a Publix and Walmart, making it attractive to a Baltimore investment firm. (Continental Realty Corporation)
    Mango Plaza’s new owners are based out of Baltimore.
  4. The Southernmost Point marker in Key West. CAROL TEDESCO  |  AP
    The travel website put the Florida Keys on its list of places not to visit.
  5. Philanthropist David Straz Jr. and his wife Catherine celebrate in March after he advanced into the Tampa mayoral run-off election. Mr. Straz has died at the age of 77. TAILYR IRVINE  |  Times
    The former mayoral candidate who lost to Tampa Mayor Jane Castor earlier this year, died Monday while on a fishing trip in Homosassa. His name, and legacy, are integral to Tampa.
  6. The Chick-fil-A on Dale Mabry in South Tampa. The company announced Monday it will no longer donate to The Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
    The groups have faced criticism for their opposition to same-sex marriage.
  7. Candice Anderson, left, and Alsace Walentine, co-owners of Tombolo Books, rearrange books as attendees of the Times Festival of Reading leave the University Student Center behind them. [Jack Evans | Times]
    The shop plans to open next to Black Crow on First Ave. S before the new year.
  8. An opened capsule containing Kratom. The Clearwater City Council was confronted by dozens of concerned citizens at a recent meeting who urged them not to ban the herbal supplement. Times
    “Our recommendation right now is, we don’t think there’s a need to regulate it.”
  9. BayCare Health Systems now plans to build a $200 million, 60-bed hospital along Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. The company previously planned to build on 111 acres further north adjacent to Interstate 75 and an interchange to built at Overpass Road. Shown his the main entrance to BayCare's St. Joseph's Hospital North on Van Dyke Road in Lutz. Times
    BayCare plans a $200 million, 60-bed hospital on land it owns along Bruce B. Downs Boulevard
  10. Damian J. Fernandez, center, is introduced Monday as the new president of Eckerd College. He will succeed longtime president Donald R. Eastman III on July 1. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Damian Fernandez, 62, will succeed president Donald R. Eastman III, who steps down June 30 after leading the school for 19 years.