For Immediate Release: December 16, 2015
Just 10 percent of shoppers have bought all of the gifts on their lists, while a little more than half of the items on people’s lists still need to be purchased; Overall sales up 3 percent over 2014
TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association representing retailers for over 75 years, announced today that just one out of every ten consumers have completed their shopping list, while just 54 percent of the total items on people’s lists have been purchased. Additionally, it’s been a mixed bag for retailers as sales are up more than 3 percent over 2014 so far, but prices are down 2.9 percent. “Due to so many people with so much left to buy on their gift lists, it should make for a great finish to this holiday shopping season for retailers and consumers,” said FRF President/CEO Rick McAllister. “Retailers are responding to the demands of consumers by offering lower prices, which means a greater volume of sales overall, while shoppers win out by being able to purchase more for their dollar.”
According to the National Retail Federation’s final consumer holiday spending survey of the season, the average holiday shopper has completed 53.5 percent of their shopping, similar to the 52.9 percent seen this time last year. Approximately 10 percent of holiday shoppers say they are finished – or 22.6 million people; that means 90 percent of holiday shoppers still have gifts, food, décor and/or other holiday items to buy.
The biggest reason people say they have waited to shop? They are still trying to figure out what to buy: 44.8 percent said they are still weighing their choices between gifts. Additionally, 28.8 percent said they wait until mid to late December because their friends and family haven’t given them enough ideas as to what they want and 22 percent are waiting for the best deals on holiday merchandise. One in five admit they are simply just a procrastinator. When asked when they believe they will purchase their last gift, 33 percent said sometime before December 18, though 10 percent are planning to wait until December 23.
Retail sales for November — excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants — were up 3 percent from a year ago. A closer look at the numbers reveals that while fewer dollars are coming in than expected, that doesn’t mean consumers are shopping less. In fact, unit volume appears to be up. The issue is that prices are down. And that means the same number of sweaters, toys or electronic gadgets sold brings retailers less revenue.
“More than anything, perhaps, is that consumers have become conditioned to expect discounts and promotions,” said McAllister. “It’s important that all retailers recognize this changing dynamic and reflect this change in their prices to ensure a profitable finish to the holiday season.”
A number of factors are behind the lower prices — inventories are stable but elevated, in part due to the flood of merchandise that came into the country earlier this year after the labor dispute that brought West Coast ports to a crawl ended. Warm weather has reduced demand for seasonal items like coats and sweaters. Much of the extra money freed up by lower gasoline prices has gone to services such as travel and restaurants rather than retail merchandise. In addition, most consumers have seen little in the way of wage increases. Rent, health care costs and even the amount spent on communications like smartphones, tablets and broadband Internet service are all up.
While prices may be down, demand is certainly up. November sales were generally solid, with strength seen in sales of electronics, food and beverage, clothing, sporting goods, general merchandise and on-line and other non-store sales.
ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
Founded in 1937, the Florida Retail Federation is 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. For more information, visit the FRF website, and follow FRF on Facebook and Twitter.