The Florida Retail Federation has historically been a major participant in political campaigns and leadership funds. Using the resources entrusted to us by our members, we provide tangible support to candidates for political office who share our pro-business, pro-retail philosophy. The Florida Retail Federation’s PAC announced endorsements for the following candidates running for public office. These candidates are all pro-business and supporters of retail, and we look forward to working with them in their new legislative seats:

Florida Senate
Frank Artiles Joe Negron
Lizbeth Benacquisto Keith Perry
Doug Broxson Bobby Powell
Anitere Flores Kelli Stargel
Rene Garcia Dana Young
Travis Hutson  
Florida House
Larry AhernMike LaRosa
Ramon AlexanderChris Latvala
Ben AlbrittonMaryLynn Magar
Loranne AusleyAlex Miller
Bryan Avila Mike Miller
Michael BilecaGeorge Moraitis
Colleen Burton Sam Killebrew
Matt CaldwellJeanette Nunez
Neil Combee Jose Oliva
Bob Cortes Kathleen Peters
John Couriel Rene Plasencia
Manny DiazElizabeth Porter
Jose Felix DiazHolly Raschein
Brad Drake Dan Raulerson
Tom Goodson Paul Renner
Blaise Ingoglia Ross Spano
Clay IngramChris Sprowls

For Immediate Release: August 1, 2016
CONTACT: James Miller, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (850)701-3015

Retailers once again expecting big crowds this year as parents, students and business professionals take advantage of tax free shopping

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association representing retailers for over 75 years, reminds Florida families, consumers and its 270,000 retailers that the popular annual back-to-school shopping season takes place this weekend, August 5-7. This annual tax free weekend allows Sunshine State families to save on supplies and clothes to prepare their children and themselves for the upcoming year. Nationally, the average family is expected to spend $673.57 on apparel and accessories, shoes and school supplies, up from last year’s $630.36. Nationally, sales for this back-to-school shopping weekend are expected to reach $75 billion, up from $68 billion last year.

“The back-to-school sales tax holiday remains one of the most popular shopping periods of the year in Florida with students, parents and business professionals looking forward to saving money on the clothes and items they need for school or work,” said FRF President/CEO Randy Miller. “We’re excited about what the weekend will bring in terms of increased sales for businesses and the important savings for consumers.”

The holiday means big savings for shoppers and big business for retailers, which has become the second largest shopping weekend after Black Friday. As part of the holiday, shoppers don’t have to pay sales tax on back-to-school items including clothing and shoes priced at $60 or less, and school supplies less than $15 per item. For a complete listing of all eligible items, please click HERE.

This year’s back-to-school sales tax holiday allows eligible businesses to OPT OUT of participating when less than five percent (5%) of their gross sales of tangible personal property during calendar year 2015 were sales of items that would be exempt during the tax holiday period. Qualified businesses had until August 1 to notify the Department of Revenue that they were opting out and must post a notice at each business location stating their choice not to participate in the Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday.

K-12 Spending
According to FRF’s partners at the National Retail Federation’s recent survey, families with children in grades K-12 plan to spend an average $673.57 on apparel and accessories, electronics, shoes and school supplies, up from last year’s $630.36 for a total of $27.3 billion, according to the survey. That’s an increase of 9.6 percent from last year’s $24.9 billion and compares with a total growth of 54.8 percent over the past 10 years.

The numbers follow a pattern in which spending often increases one year as families stock up on supplies only to drop off the next as they get a second year out of longer-lasting items like backpacks or computers. Spending then increases in the third year once children outgrow clothing or items need to be replaced.

According to the survey, K-12 consumers plan to spend $9.54 billion on clothing (purchased by 95 percent), $8.27 billion on electronics such as computers or calculators (57 percent), $5.12 billion on shoes (94 percent) and $4.37 billion on school supplies such as notebooks, folders, pencils, backpacks and lunchboxes (96 percent). Parents say they will spend an average $235.39 on clothing, $204.06 on electronics, $126.35 on shoes and $107.76 on school supplies.

While discount stores continue to be the choice of the largest share of shoppers at 61 percent, the number is at its lowest level in the survey’s history. But 46 percent of parents said they would shop online, a dramatic jump from last year’s 36 percent. The vast majority of online shoppers plan to take advantage of free shipping (89 percent of those surveyed) and conveniences like buy online, pick up in store (54 percent).

Bigger Kids, Bigger Bills
College students and families with children in college plan to spend an average of $888.71, according to the survey. That’s down slightly from $899.18 last year, but total spending is expected to be up at $48.5 billion compared with $43.1 billion last year due to an increase of consumers shopping for back-to-college.

The survey found college consumers plan to spend $11.54 billion on electronics (purchased by 50 percent), $7.49 billion on clothing (70 percent), $6.23 billion on dorm furnishings (43 percent), $5.78 billion on food items (69 percent), $4.26 billion on personal care items (72 percent), $3.84 billion on shoes (67 percent), $3.53 billion on school supplies (81 percent), $3.14 billion on gift cards (36 percent) and $2.7 billion on branded collegiate gear (49 percent). Spending on electronics will average $211.33, apparel and accessories $137.29, dorm furnishings $114.21, food $105.88, personal care items $78.03, shoes $70.39, school supplies $64.64, gift cards $57.54 and branded gear $49.41.

Discount stores still account for the largest share of college shopping, visited by 44 percent of consumers, but the number is at its lowest level in the survey’s history. Only 34 percent will visit a college bookstore, also a new low. Online shopping is the choice of 38 percent of shoppers, down from 39 percent last year and a peak of 45 percent two years ago.

The survey of 6,809 consumers asked about both back-to-school and back-to-college plans was conducted June 30-July 6 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

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.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION
As the world's largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, the National Retail Federation's global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution as well as chain restaurants and industry partners from the U.S. and more than 45 countries abroad. In the U.S., NRF represents the breadth and diversity of an industry with more than 1.6 million American companies that employ nearly 25 million workers and generated 2010 sales of $2.4 trillion. www.nrf.com.

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The Florida Retail Federation is excited about the upcoming BACK-TO-SCHOOL SALES TAX HOLIDAY taking place August 5-7 and the increased sales it bring for Florida retailers. We wanted to remind retailers of one of the changes to this year’s sales tax holiday: that eligible businesses are allowed to OPT OUT of participating when less than five percent (5%) of their gross sales of tangible personal property during calendar year 2015 were sales of items that would be exempt during the tax holiday period. Businesses with multiple locations must include the gross sales of all their Florida locations in this calculation. For businesses that were not in operation during the 2015 calendar year, this option is available when less than five percent (5%) of the business’s inventory of items for sale are items that would be tax exempt during the tax holiday.

Qualifying businesses choosing not to participate in the tax holiday must send a written notice to the Department by August 1, 2016. The notice must be on business letterhead and state that the business meets the qualifications stated above and has chosen not to participate in the tax holiday. The notice must be signed by an individual authorized to sign on behalf of the business. Businesses with multiple locations may send a single notice stating that all their Florida locations will not participate in the tax holiday.

Mail the letter to: Account Management MS 1-5730
Sales Tax Holiday
Florida Department of Revenue
5050 W Tennessee St
Tallahassee FL 32399-0160

You must also EMAIL a scanned signed letter to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or FAX the letter to: 850.922.0859.

Qualified businesses that do not participate in the tax holiday must post a notice at each business location stating their choice not to participate in the Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday. The notice must be posted in a conspicuous location at the place of business. The following is a suggested notice:

In accordance with Chapter 2016-220, Laws of Florida, (Name of Business) has chosen not to participate in the Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday, August 5-7, 2016. For questions, please contact (name of contact person at business) at (contact telephone number or email address).

[Signature of Authorized Individual]
[Title]

For Immediate Release: July 18, 2016
CONTACT: James Miller, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (850)701-3015

The state’s leading retail advocate filed suit today to prevent Coral Gables from enforcing the ban, thereby protecting Florida businesses from another attempt to circumvent state laws

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association representing retailers for over 75 years, today announced that in response to the City of Coral Gables’ recent decision to enact a local ordinance banning the use of polystyrene products by local businesses, that it has filed suit in Florida’s 11th Judicial Circuit Court for a declaratory judgment and injunction asking the court to declare that this is not a lawful exercise of their authority thereby preventing the city from enforcing their polystyrene ban.

“The City of Coral Gables is another example of a local government believing that the laws of the State of Florida don’t apply to them in spite of the fact that the Florida Legislature passed a law this session that preempted municipalities from passing a local ordinance banning the use of polystyrene,” said FRF President/CEO Randy Miller. “Thousands of our retail members rely on polystyrene as a safe and affordable way to serve and transport food and beverages to their customers, but implementing a patchwork of different ordinances like this, which could change from street to street or block to block, is not only confusing to customers but also difficult for retailers. It is always our hope to work with local governments regarding any concerns they have that could impact retailers, but FRF member businesses have been hit time and again with overreaching and burdensome regulations which requires us to push back on behalf of our members.”

FRF is working with the law firm of Lehtinen Schultz Riedi Catalano de la Fuente, PLLC, based out of Wellington, FL, with lead counsel Dexter Lehtinen. To see a copy of the suit filed, please click HERE.

This local injunction banning polystyrene is just the latest in a series of recent attempts by local governments to circumvent previously established state laws. Some examples include the proposed banning of plastic bags, helium and trying to increase the minimum wage, all have been attempted in the past year and all would adversely impact local businesses and Florida families.

“What local governments don’t realize is that banning these items not only negatively impacts their local businesses, but also impacts their residents by forcing these businesses to find other more costly and potentially less safe materials. This raises the cost of doing business, and possibly forcing these increased costs onto the backs of hardworking families,” said Miller. “These local governments are also putting their local businesses at a competitive disadvantage and encouraging local customers to spend their money in nearby cities, and depriving the local government of the taxes. We hope the City of Coral Gables and the other cities interested in passing local ordinances rethink their decisions and the impacts it would have on their communities.”

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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