Florida holiday sales to grow by 4 percent

Florida shoppers are expected to increase their holiday spending by 4 percent this year, a growth rate that exceeds the national sales forecast for November and December, the Florida Retail Federation said Tuesday.holidayshoppingap

Federation President and CEO Randy Miller  said Florida’s strengthening housing market, low unemployment rate and booming tourism industry helped push the state past the rest of the nation.

“People who come to the state typically leave with more” than what they came with, Miller said. “That creates a significant advantage over other states.”

A record breaking 105 million tourists visited Florida in 2015, and tourism leaders hope to beat that number this year.

Furniture sales — an important benchmark for the retail industry — have also been strong, indicating that consumers have money to spend, Miller said.

“If furniture sales are strong, that means people are buying and selling houses,” Miller said. “It reinforces our economy is strong.”

Nationally, retail sales are expected to reach $655.8 billion, up 3.6 percent over last year.

Consumers are expected to spend an average of $935 on gifts, down slightly from $952 last year.