Three days of tax-free, back-to-school shopping starts Friday, Aug. 4, and stores are expected to be packed despite the internet’s growing encroachment on brick-and-mortar retailers.

“Back to school shopping is a great example of the social experience that shopping is,” said Steven Kirn, a retail professor at the University of Florida. “Especially when you have parents and children shopping together, it shows one of the continuing strengths of stores.”

Nearly three times as many shoppers plan to visit stores compared with shopping online for back-to-school sales, according to a survey from New York City-based research and auditing firm Deloitte. Mostly, consumers will go online to purchase items such as computers and computer hardware such as printers and hard drives.

Parents, store managers and researchers said brick-and-mortar has the advantage on back-to-school shopping, for now, because prices are lower in stores for school supplies and picking the correct sizes for kids can be difficult.

That means aisles will be crammed with parents and students next weekend when the back-to-school shopping season culminates Aug. 4-6. Shoppers won’t pay the 6 percent to 7 percent state and local sales tax on clothing, shoes, backpacks, school supplies and computers under $750 starting at 12:01 a.m. that Friday until 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

The sales tax discount is also good on many online purchases for Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target.com.

Adding to the crowds, retailers also tend to pile their own discounts on top of the sales tax relief, pulling more shoppers into stores.

Many will be heading to mass merchants such as Wal-Mart and Target, according to Deloitte’s survey.

School supply lists in hand, Christina Doolittle and her two elementary age sons grabbed a cart at SuperTarget on Millenia Plaza Way in Orlando Wednesday. Jack, 10, and Grey, 8, crossed off items as they picked through erasers and highlighters and decided which folders to buy among a rainbow of options.

“I haven’t bought anything online for back to school, even though I order a lot of stuff on Amazon at Christmas,” said Doolittle, who lives in Orlando.

Wednesday’s Target trip was her last back-to-school-shopping stop, as she hoped to buy supplies and clothes before the crowds of the tax-free weekend.

Buying school supplies is tough online, she said, because items aren’t available in small quantities. Schools and teachers also have specific requirements for items such as folders. It’s safer to head to the store, she said.

Physical stores have some distinct advantages, Kirn said.

“The existing model of shipping items to stores, to be distributed to the masses is very efficient for things like school supplies,” Kirn said. “There just isn't the margin to sell things like one or two pencils or erasers on Amazon in the quantity that people want to buy them in.”

Kirn said online sellers could have an advantage on items such as computers and hardware, where size and processing power is more important than touch and feel.

“A computer is a computer no matter where you are in the country,” Kirn said.

The Florida Legislature sets the tax-free period every year. This year’s holiday is three days and gives an exemption on shoes and clothing items up to $60 each, school supplies less than $15 each, and computers less than $750. Backpacks also must cost less than $60 to qualify. Shoppers can also skip the sales tax on dozens of related items from tuxedos and diaper bags to coats and cleats.

The program is expected to save Florida consumers about $33.2 million in state and local sales taxes, according to estimates from the Florida Office of Economic & Demographic Research. As recently as 2015, Florida shoppers were given a 10-day sales-tax holiday, but that cost state and local governments about twice as much in sales tax revenue.

Most shopping still happens in stores and back-to-school season is a good example of where brick-and-mortar has an advantage, Florida Retail Federation spokesman James Miller said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 8 percent of all retail sales happen online, including grocery sales.

Another reason, Miller said, is that children can grow quickly and make it difficult to buy accurate clothing sizes online.

“When it comes to clothes, there is a large segment of the population that still wants to try on items in person,” Miller said. “That may change over time, but we’re a long way from that point.” read more

Kyle Arnold This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Orlando Sentinel
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/consumer/os-bz-tax-free-weekend-20170725-story.html

Published in FRF in the News

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

Popular annual shopping holiday takes place August 4-6; Eligible technology items up to $750 are tax free meaning significant savings for Florida families

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association celebrating its 80th year of supporting Florida’s retailers, is reminding Floridians and retailers of the upcoming back-to-school sales tax holiday weekend, taking place August 4-6. Serving as the state’s 2nd busiest shopping “holiday,” the weekend is expected to bring in near record-breaking sales, while Floridians are able to stretch their hard-earned dollars further and employees benefit from additional jobs and wages. Additionally, this year’s holiday sees the return of eligible technology items up to $750 tax free, which means substantial savings for Florida families.

“We are looking forward to another successful Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday, and applaud Governor Scott and the Legislature for recognizing the significance it has on our hard-working families and the 270,000 retailers throughout the State of Florida,” said FRF President and CEO R. Scott Shalley. “Each year, shoppers show up in record numbers and provide a tremendous economic boost overall to retailers’ sales numbers while they are able to afford more of the supplies they need.”

Nationally, the average family is expected to spend $687.72 on apparel and accessories, shoes and school supplies, up eight percent from 2016, according to FRF’s national partners at the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics. Nationally, sales for this back-to-school shopping weekend are expected to reach $83.6 billion, a more than 10 percent increase from last year’s $75.8 billion.

Families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $687.72 each, for a total of $29.5 billion, an 8 percent increase from last year’s $27.3 billion. Total spending is the second-highest in the history of the survey following a peak of $30.3 billion in 2012.

According to the survey, back-to-school shoppers plan to spend $10.2 billion on clothing (purchased by 95 percent of respondents), $8.8 billion on electronics such as computers or calculators (60 percent), $5.6 billion on shoes (93 percent) and $4.9 billion on school supplies such as notebooks, folders, pencils, backpacks and lunchboxes (97 percent). Parents say they will spend an average of $238.89 on clothing, $204.33 on electronics, $130.38 on shoes and $114.12 on school supplies. While consumers plan to spend more across all categories, shoes and school supplies seeing the highest expected increase.

For the first time, the survey asked consumers what types of electronics they plan to purchase. Among electronics shoppers, 45 percent said they would buy a laptop computer while more than a third plan to purchase a tablet (35 percent) or a calculator (35 percent). One in four plan to purchase electronic accessories such as a mouse, flash drive or charger.

According to the survey, 65 percent of back-to-school shoppers say half or more of their purchases are a direct result of their children’s influence, up from 57 percent last year. And while children’s influence is growing, so too is their willingness to help their parents pay the bill: teenagers will contribute $37.64, up from last year’s $32.90, and pre-teens will contribute $27.09, up from last years $20.08.

More families will tackle their back-to-school lists early this year with 27 percent beginning two months before the beginning of school, up from 22 percent last year. But not all shoppers are early birds, 21 percent will wait until the last week or two before school starts, about the same as last year’s 22 percent. Of those shopping early, 60 percent say they are trying to spread out their budgets, 48 percent don’t want to miss out on sales and 43 percent want to avoid crowds.

When it comes to where parents will buy, they are shopping across a variety of retailers; 57 percent will shop at department stores, 54 percent at discount stores, 46 percent each at clothing stores and online, and 36 percent at office supply stores. For those shopping online, 91 percent plan to take advantage of free shipping and 54 percent will buy online and pick up in-store.

The back-to-school sales tax holiday has been one of the most popular shopping holidays among consumers and retailers and has been providing vital tax relief since it first began. The holiday has been recognized in 16 out of the 20 years since it first began in 1998. This year will mark the 8th year in a row it has taken place. For the complete list of eligible tax-free items, see floridarevenue.com/.

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.

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Published in Media Relations

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.

Published in Media Relations

For Immediate Release: May 1, 2017
CONTACT: James Miller, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (850)701-3015

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Below is a quote from FRF President & CEO R. Scott Shalley regarding the legislature's recent decision NOT to fund the Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday:

"The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) applauds Legislative leaders for their work on the 2017 tax package. We are, however, concerned to learn that the Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday has been omitted from the current proposal.

The entire State of Florida was affected by hurricanes in 2016. This Tax Holiday provides an extra incentive to consumers to ensure that Floridians are prepared and protected from dangerous storms. Proper preparation saves money and lives. We strongly encourage legislative leaders to reconsider this decision and include the Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday in their final tax package.”

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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Published in Media Relations

Today, Governor Rick Scott announced during the “Fighting for Florida’s Future” Tax Cut Tour that he is proposing $618 million in tax cuts to help Florida families and small businesses, and ensure taxes are cut for Florida’s future generations. These tax cuts will encourage job creators to add more jobs and build opportunities now and in the future.

"Governor Scott's 'Fighting for Florida's Future' tax package includes a number of cuts which will significantly support Florida's retailers, including a reduction in the business rent tax, cutting the business tax and including an expanded back-to-school sales tax holiday among others," said FRF President & CEO Randy Miller. "FRF is excited about what the Governor's tax cut package will mean for growing Sunshine State businesses, creating new jobs for Florida families and ensuring our state remains competitive."

Governor Scott said, “While Florida’s economy has made great strides over the past six years, we have to continue to fight for Florida’s future and ensure our children and grandchildren have the opportunity to succeed in our great state. We know one of the best ways to do that is to keep cutting taxes, and even though we have already cut more than $6.5 billion in taxes, we can do more. That is why I am fighting for Florida families and our future generations by recommending to cut taxes by $618 million this year.

“When we cut taxes, it helps businesses create jobs – jobs that ultimately help the poorest, most disadvantaged families in our state. As I travel the state, I have been humbled by the stories of single parents, young students, new citizens and countless other Floridians who have shared with me how much of a difference a job has made in their life and in the lives of their families. These incredible stories are why we are fighting to secure a bright future for Florida, and cutting taxes will help make our state the top location for job creators to invest in for generations to come. I made a promise to keep fighting for jobs until my very last day as Governor, and I ask the Legislature to join me in fighting for the future of our students, our small businesses, our veterans and our families by cutting $618 million in taxes this year.”

Governor Scott’s “Fighting for Florida’s Future” tax cut package includes:

  • Decreasing the Tax on Business Rents by $454 Million – Florida is the only state that has a tax on commercial leases which unfairly targets small businesses. Governor Scott is proposing to reduce the tax on commercial leases by 25 percent in 2018, saving Florida businesses $454 million a year. Sales Tax Holidays to Save Families $98 Million – Governor Scott is proposing four sales tax holidays which will save Florida families an estimated $98 million in the upcoming fiscal year. These sales tax holidays include:
    • $72 million from a 10-day back-to-school sales tax holiday;
    • $7 million from a nine-day disaster preparedness sales tax holiday;
    • $18.4 million from a three-day veteran’s sales tax holiday; and
    • $500,000 from a one-day camping and fishing sales tax holiday.
  • Providing a One-Year Sales Tax Exemption on College Textbooks to Save Students $48 Million – Governor Scott is proposing to exempt the purchase of college textbooks from the sales tax for the 2017-18 academic year. The prices of college textbooks have increased significantly, often exceeding $100 per book. Exempting college textbooks from the sales tax is expected to save Florida students $48 million.
  • Cutting the Business Tax to Save Job Creators $15 Million – Governor Scott is proposing to exempt 22.5 percent of businesses from having to pay income taxes by increasing the corporate tax exemption from $50,000 to $75,000. Eliminating this tax will provide annual savings of $15 million and help more small businesses hire additional workers. This proposal will eliminate these taxes for more than 80 percent of Florida’s businesses. This exemption was increased from $5,000 to $25,000 in 2011 and $50,000 in 2012.
  • Exempting School Book Fairs from the Sales Tax to Save Families and Students $3 Million – Governor Scott is proposing to exempt the purchases of books at school book fairs from the sales tax, saving Florida families $3 million each year.

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Published in Media Relations
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