The Florida Retail Federation originally predicted 2013's holiday shopping season would net 3.5 to 4.5-percent more sales than 2012 and officials say they’re on the way to meeting that goal – handily. Labor groups chided big retailers who pushed the sales weekend earlier to include Thanksgiving night in an attempt to maximize profits. Although overall numbers are up, Florida Retail Federation Spokesman John Fleming pointed out that whatever retailers might’ve gained by being open Thursday, they might’ve lost Friday.
“It may have helped sales overall through the weekend. Although, some of the retailers we’ve heard from say that it shifted a little bit of the traffic from Friday to Thursday. So, they might’ve seen lower numbers than they expected on Friday,” Fleming said.
Still, Fleming noted if consumers continue to shop on Thanksgiving Day, retailers will stay open.
“Retail is a very competitive industry; it’s also a completely consumer-driven industry. So, if retailers see that shoppers are not responding to something – they’ll quit doing it.” Fleming explained. “If they see something is very popular with shoppers, they’ll keep doing it and they’ll do more of it.”
Fleming said most shoppers skipped the traditional brick and mortar stores altogether in favor of purchasing online. He says Florida’s retail numbers closely mirror national statistics which show online buying up 20-percent from last year. Officials also attribute the strong showing to smartphone buying, which jumped 55-percent in 2013.