The Florida Retail Federation, in conjunction with our partners at the National Retail Federation, passes along the good news that U.S. House Republican leaders plan to abandon an attempt to repeal debit card swipe fee reform that has saved retailers and their customers more than $40 billion and brought badly needed competition to the payments market.

Repeal of swipe fee reform would have come as part of the Financial Choice Act, a broad bill that would roll back banking regulations established in 2010 under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

The House is expected to vote on the bill after it returns from its Memorial Day recess in June, and leadership conducted a whip count this week to determine support for the overall measure and provisions such as the repeal of swipe fee reform. A number of Republican House members expressed concerns about repealing swipe reform, and reports indicate tonight that agreement has been reached to drop the provision.

Debit reform was enacted as part of Dodd-Frank in response to the card industry’s practice of price-fixing the debit card “swipe” fees banks charge merchants to process transactions. The fees previously averaged 1-2 percent of the purchase amount, and virtually all banks that issue cards charged the same.

Under reform regulations that took effect in October 2011, large banks are limited to 22 cents per transaction, down from an average 45 cents in the past. The limit saved retailers about $8.5 billion in the first year alone, with close to $6 billion of the savings passed along to consumers, according to a study by economist Robert Shapiro. Banks that set the fees competitively and independently are exempt from the limit, but virtually none have done so. Banks with under $10 billion in assets are also exempt.

Reform also required that merchants be given at least two choices in the networks that route debit transactions to the banks for processing, typically one controlled by Visa or MasterCard and a competing, independent network that can offer advantages such as lower fees, better service or better security.

For Immediate Release: May 25, 2017
CONTACT: James Miller This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (850)701-3015

Carroll, owner of Crestview’s growing popular BBQ restaurant, was selected as the recipient of retail trade association’s prestigious award for his service to customers and community

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association celebrating its 80th year in supporting Florida’s retail industry, today named Michael Carroll, owner of Hub City Smokehouse & Grill in Crestview, as its 2017 Florida Retailer of the Year. This is the 19th year in a row that FRF has selected a retailer of the year, and Michael will be honored with this prestigious award during a special luncheon on June 8 at the Vinoy Renaissance Hotel in St. Petersburg. Ray & Jody Hetchka of Kayak Amelia in Fernandina Beach and April Meier of Pawsitively Scrumptious Bark Bakery & Boutique in Crestview will be recognized as Outstanding Retail Leaders during the ceremony.

“We are proud to honor Michael as a tremendous representative of Florida’s retailers and the impact our industry can have both on our customers and community,” said R. Scott Shalley, FRF President & CEO. “Michael’s contributions locally, via his service on multiple non-profit boards and significant time spent volunteering, highlight the many ways that retailers are making a difference throughout Florida.”

Michael and his wife started the small Hub City Smokehouse & Grill in 2011 in a five table, 900 sq.ft. section of an industrial strip center. After gaining a well-known name and loyal following, Hub City moved to a location on Main Street in 2015. Creative endeavors such as shot glasses traded for BBQ, personalized aprons for regular customers, and unique menu offerings helped the business grow. Michael, who is retired from the U.S. Air Force, volunteers extensively in his community serving on boards of Main Street Crestview and the Crestview Local Planning Agency, has held positions with the Rotary and is active in school district and city youth programs. He also supports projects such as Wounded Warriors through Hub City.

“It is an honor to be recognized by the Florida Retail Federation as the 2017 Retailer of the Year, and I want to thank FRF for this award and for their continued commitment to our industry,” said Michael Carroll. “I also want to thank my wife, Loretta, our dedicated customers, and our incredibly hard working team at Hub City Smokehouse & Grill for their focus on excellent customer service, as well as service to our community.”

Two other retailers will be honored as “Outstanding Retail Leaders” for their commitment to the retail industry and their community. These retailers will also be recognized at the 2017 Florida Retailer of the Year awards ceremony in June:

Ray & Jody Hetchka | Kayak Amelia | Fernandina Beach
Since their beginnings as a “Mom and Pop” kayak operation 21 years ago, the Hetchkas have grown their business to offerings that include guided kayak, Segway and stand up paddleboard eco-tours, self-guided bike and kayak rentals and an earth-friendly gift shop. The couple has served on and worked with numerous boards and organizations that promote the Amelia Island / Fernandina Beach area and tourism in Florida. They donate their boats and other services for fundraisers. Coordinating with the National Park Service, the Hetchkas support the Timucuan Rangers, a program which brings children from Jacksonville’s urban core out to the beach.

April Meier | Pawsitively Scrumptious Bark Bakery & Boutique | Crestview
Retired Air Force veteran April Meier started this retail store located in downtown Crestview four years ago. The business provides holistic pet foods and typical pet toys and accessories. April is active in numerous business organizations and also mentors other business members. Her singular efforts raised over $65,000 toward the completion of the Crestview Bark Park, which is scheduled to open this summer. She also helped raise funds for the Crestview Police Department to purchase two working canines and provided north Okaloosa County Area Fire Departments with “Waggin O2 Fur Life,” Aubu-Bag kits to assist with life-saving oxygen masks for pets that might be involved in a home fire, among other efforts.

The Retailer of the Year award, sponsored by FRF since 1999, honors Florida retailers who blend sound business practices with commitments to their communities, customers and employees. FRF issues a statewide call for nominations, with the award open to both members and non-members of the non-profit trade association. Eligible retailers are all those who work for, own, or operate a Florida retail business that has an annual sales volume of $5 million or less. Nominations were received from communities around the state. A selection panel made up of small business owners and other retail experts ranked nominees based on their scores in several categories, including community service and business acumen.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
The Florida Retail Federation is the statewide trade association representing retailers -- the businesses that sell directly to consumers. Florida retailers provide one out of every five jobs in the state, pay more than $49 billion in wages annually, and collect and remit more than $20 billion in sales taxes for Florida’s government each year. For more information, visit the FRF website, and follow FRF on Facebook and Twitter.

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Monday, 22 May 2017 12:00

Graduation Spending to Hit Record High This Year

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For Immediate Release: May 22, 2017
CONTACT: James Miller, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (850)701-3015

Record amount expected to be spent on gift cards, greeting cards, apparel and electronics for Sunshine State graduates

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association celebrating its 80th year in supporting Florida’s retail industry, says Floridians will spend more than ever on graduation gifts this year. With more consumers buying for graduates this year – 36 percent compared with 34 percent in 2016 – total spending nationally is expected to reach $5.6 billion, topping last year’s record of $5.4 billion.

“Graduation is a significant achievement in someone’s life as they end one chapter and begin a new one, and recognizing this is important for a graduate's family and friends,” said R. Scott Shalley, FRF President & CEO. “With loved ones eager to celebrate this important milestone, we expect the gifts to Sunshine State graduates to reach record numbers this year, which is great news for Florida retailers.”

According FRF’s national partners at the National Retail Federation’s annual survey by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the $5.6 billion total is the highest in the survey’s 11-year history. Cash will once again be the most popular gift, given by 53 percent of those surveyed as they seek to help students with the costly transition from high school to college or college to the “real world.” However, cash gifting is at a survey low in 2017, dropping about 10 percent from highs recorded in 2007 and 2009. Greeting cards follow at 41 percent, gift cards at 33 percent, apparel at 16 percent and electronics at 11 percent.

While ages 18-24 are the most likely to give a gift to graduates (at 48 percent), they maintain the smallest budgets at $78.42. The biggest spending is likely to come among parent-age 45-54-year-olds at $119.84 as well as those in the grandparent bracket of 65+, who plan to spend an average $112.34.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
Founded in 1937, the Florida Retail Federation is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year as the statewide trade association representing retailers -- the businesses that sell directly to consumers. Florida retailers provide three out of every four jobs in the state, pay more than $49 billion in wages annually, and collect and remit more than $20 billion in sales taxes for Florida’s government each year. In fact, more than three out of four of Florida’s budget dollars come from retail-related activity.

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Tuesday, 16 May 2017 10:46

Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday

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Preparing for the Sales Tax Holiday

We are very pleased that our work with the Florida Legislature ultimately included provisions for a Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday during the 2017 session. This sales tax holiday will encourage Floridians to stock up on the supplies they need to be prepared for the hurricane season and other potential disasters.

This holiday is coming up VERY SOON! The bill is currently waiting for Governor Scott’s signature to make it official, but we wanted all of our members to be well aware of the details of the holiday so that you can prepare and make the most of this event in your stores. We have reached out to the Department of Revenue to inquire when we can expect to receive the TIP sheet on this event. In the meantime, here are the details that you may need to get ready.

When is the Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday?
12:01 a.m. on June 2, 2017, through 11:59 p.m. on June 4, 2017

What items fall under the sales tax holiday?
During the period of time listed above, sales tax should not be collected on the following items:

  • A portable self-powered light source selling for $20 or less.
  • A portable self-powered radio, two-way radio, or Weatherband radio selling for $50 or less.
  • A tarpaulin or other flexible waterproof sheeting selling for $50 or less.
  • A self-contained first-aid kit selling for $30 or less.
  • A ground anchor system or tie-down kit selling for $50 or less.
  • A gas or diesel fuel tank selling for $25 or less.
  • A package of AA-cell, C-cell, D-cell, 6-volt, or 9-volt batteries, excluding automobile and boat batteries, selling for $30 or less.
  • A nonelectric food storage cooler selling for $30 or less.
  • A portable generator used to provide light or communications or preserve food in the event of a power outage selling for $750 or less.
  • Reusable ice selling for $10 or less.

Does everyone who sells these items have to participate?
The tax exemptions do not apply to sales of the above items that take place in theme parks or entertainment complexes, lodging establishments, or airports. Every other retailer must provide the sales tax exemptions on the items above during the designated time period.

When we receive further details from the Department of Revenue, we will send it out immediately. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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