Monday, 09 December 2019 09:43

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 9, 2019
CONTACT: Amanda Bevis (202) 680-9262

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) today launched its “Fairness for Florida” website (fairnessforflorida.com) in support of legislation that will restore the free market and level the playing field for Florida businesses.

Currently, foreign and out-of-state businesses avoid collecting and remitting sales tax to Florida on purchases made by Floridians, putting businesses in Florida at a severe disadvantage. Florida is one of only two states that has not yet modernized its tax system to reflect the changing environment.

“Foreign companies are luring Florida consumers by advertising cheaper prices that don’t account for taxes owed,” said Scott Shalley, President & CEO of the FRF. “This scheme is putting Florida retailers out of business and taking away jobs for Florida families.”

SB 126, sponsored by Sen. Joe Gruters, and HB 159, sponsored by Rep. Chuck Clemons, can fix this problem. This legislation will level the playing field and restore the free market by enforcing the law that businesses must pay these taxes.

“Florida retailers provide jobs for Florida families, support their local communities, and pay state and local taxes,” said Sen. Gruters. “We must ensure that our businesses are able to compete globally and are not hindered by outdated regulations here at home.”

There are more than 270,000 retailers in Florida, and these businesses provide more than 2.7 million jobs for Florida families. It is estimated that one in five jobs in Florida are tied to the retail industry “Florida retailers are competing with one hand tied behind their back,” said Rep. Clemons. “We must restore the free market.”

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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Monday, 09 December 2019 08:29

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 6, 2019
CONTACT: Amanda Bevis (202) 680-9262

Toy Safety Checklist Includes Checking Age Range on Toys and Assembling Parts Before the Fun Begins

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) wants to help Florida families stay safe this holiday season, and there are steps consumers can take to ensure the safety of gifts they purchase for family and friends, especially young children.

“Finding the perfect gift can be a challenge. We want to make sure shoppers find gifts that are both fun and safe for the children on their list this holiday season,” said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the FRF. “Our Toy Safety Checklist is a simple way that parents, grandparents and other gift givers can select and give gifts that are safe and age-appropriate.”

The FRF’s Toy Safety Checklist includes:

  1. Buy toys from reputable retail stores or websites
  2. Check the age range to make sure the toy is suitable for the child in mind and avoid toys with small parts when shopping for children under age three
  3. Inspect toys for loose hair and small parts, sharp edges and points
  4. Carefully read instructions and warnings provided with toys
  5. Assemble and inspect toys before giving them to children

In 2017, there were an estimated 251,700 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments. Of the 251,700 estimated toy-related, emergency department-treated injuries, an estimated 184,000 (73%) occurred involving children younger than 15 years of age and an estimated 89,800 (36%) occurred involving children younger than five years of age.

For more insights on how to safely shop toys this holiday season, visit: playsafe.org

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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Tuesday, 29 October 2019 08:21

October 24, 2019
CONTACT: Amanda Bevis (202) 680-9262

ORLANDO, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) recognized Detective Andrew Goodlet of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office last night as the 2019 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year at the FRF's annual awards dinner. Detective Goodlet’s investigation into thefts at a national retailer revealed an organized retail crime ring responsible for $2.2 million in theft.

“Florida’s retailers are proud to honor Detective Goodlet for his selfless service and commitment to keep Florida families and Florida businesses safe,” said Casey Cesnovar, Chairman of the Board at the Florida Retail Federation, and Vice President, State and Local Government Affairs at Walgreens. “Thanks to Detective Goodlet, Florida families can feel safe when shopping, and Florida’s favorite stores can focus on continuing to provide great products, quality service and good prices.”

Detective Goodlet is a member of the Organized Retail Crime Unit in the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Described as the “go-to” member of his unit, Detective Goodlet was nominated by Lieutenant Billy Strickland of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Detective Goodlet was one of many law enforcement officers honored during the annual event. FRF also recognized the 2019 runner-up, Agent Justin Wood of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office. Detective Rhett Campbell of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, Detective Miguel Garcia of the Miami-Dade Police Department and Officer Jason Richmond of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office received Honorable Mentions.

“Florida’s law enforcement officers are an important partner of Florida retailers in preventing crime and holding criminals accountable,” said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the FRF. “It’s because of their commitment and sacrifice that Florida’s crime rate is at a 48-year low. We are proud to honor the men and women in blue.”

Since 1974, the FRF has cherished the tradition of celebrating Florida’s outstanding law enforcement community for their dedication keeping Florida residents safe. This year the selection committee for the FRF awards program received dozens of worthy nominations with endless accounts of heroism and selflessness in the line of duty.

The FRF also recognized the officers who were killed in the line of duty during the last year.

“Florida’s law enforcement officers chose a career of running into danger when others run away,” said Shalley. “And some of them make the ultimate sacrifice for our safety. We want to make sure they are properly recognized… and never forgotten.” The FRF presented a $1,000 donation to the Fraternal Order of Police (F.O.P.) Memorial Foundation to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The F.O.P. Memorial Foundation’s Annual Memorial Service in Tallahassee commemorates the Florida Law Enforcement Officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. The names of fallen heroes are added to the memorial each year.

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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Tuesday, 27 August 2019 11:48

The 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season starts on June 1st

With the official start of the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season, the staff of the Florida Retail Federation is once again ready to assist our members with preparation, response and recovery. Below are some points of contact and useful information.

PREPARE

RESPONSE/RECOVERY

  • If a storm impacts Florida, the staff of the Florida Retail Federation will maintain a presence at the state’s Emergency Operations Center. The main point of contact for FRF will be our General Counsel and VP, Lorena Holley. She can be reached via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone or text at 850-443-1173.
  • Re-Entry Requirements: If a storm impacts Florida, one of our primary goals is to assist with the rapid restoration of local businesses. We will work with local officials and law enforcement to assist our members with re-entry to affected areas.
  • Florida’s Statewide Private Sector Re-Entry Requirements remain unchanged and are as follows:
    • Individuals and businesses seeking to provide essential commodities and services to impacted areas will be allowed re-entry by possessing and presenting to local officials:
    • A valid government-issued ID, such as a Driver’s License or passport
    • Proof of Employment, such as Employer credential or a letter on employer letterhead; and
    • A demonstrated need to enter the area, such as a work order, inventory list, or employer authorization.

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out for additional help and/or information.
Thursday, 15 August 2019 12:11

For Immediate Release: August 14, 2019
CONTACT: James Miller, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (850)701-3015

Decisive victory affirms validity of state preemption, and the City of Coral Gables is immediately prohibited from enforcing its invalid regulations

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association supporting Florida’s retail industry for more than 80 years, applauds today’s ruling by Miami’s 3rd District Court of Appeal. A victory for FRF and its members, the Court struck down the City of Coral Gables’ effort to circumvent state law and restrict use of all polystyrene products in the City.

“We commend the court as this decision reinforces the legislature’s ability and authority to govern these issues on a statewide basis,” said FRF President & CEO R. Scott Shalley. “This decision helps ensure Florida remains a business-friendly state by avoiding a patchwork of regulations by the more than 400 local governments. I also want to thank the Attorney General’s Office for their partnership and support in joining this successful lawsuit.”

“We look forward to a continued statewide dialogue on these important issues. Florida’s retailers have a vested interest in a healthy and sustainable Florida,” continued Shalley. “Our retailers spend millions of dollars every year on identifying ways to reduce our collective ecological footprint. We will continue to focus on solutions that are based on science and the importance of responsible consumer education and behavior.”

The City of Coral Gables, in a series of 2016 overreaching regulations, tried to prohibit the use of polystyrene products by city retailers altogether. The City went so far as passing a local ordinance declaring 500.90 F.S. “unconstitutional.” The Florida Retail Federation, its local City of Coral Gables member Super Progresso, Inc., and the Attorney General’s Office defended the validity of the state preemption statutes. State laws supported by the Florida Retail Federation have long preempted regulation of polystyrene packaging materials to the state legislature, and the 3rd District Court ruled all of Coral Gables’ local regulations in derogation of state law are invalid.

Accordingly, any local regulations of styrofoam or other packaging materials, such as plastic bags, adopted by other Florida municipalities after January 1, 2016, are invalid as they violate state laws. FRF members and local retailers are now protected from post-2016 regulation by aggressive municipalities or counties as a result of FRF’s advocacy efforts. FRF was represented by Dexter Lehtinen, Esq. and Claudio Riedi, Esq. of Lehtinen Schultz, PLLC, in Miami.

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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Wednesday, 24 July 2019 10:55

For Immediate Release: July 24, 2019
CONTACT: James Miller, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (850)701-3015

The Sunshine State’s annual tax-free shopping holiday is extended to five days this year; Technology items up to $1,000 are included, and consumers of ALL ages can save money by taking advantage of buying thousands of eligible items

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association celebrating more than 80 years of supporting Florida’s retailers, is encouraging consumers and retailers to prepare for the upcoming Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday. This popular annual “holiday” takes place August 2-6. During this time, consumers will not have to pay sales tax on thousands of eligible items such as clothes, shoes, school supplies and the return of technology items. The sales tax holiday also benefits Sunshine State retailers who see increased sales and as a result, create new jobs for hard working Florida families.

“We are excited to support this generous five-day tax free holiday. This annual event provides Floridians with much needed tax relief while providing a nice boost to our local retailers,” said FRF President and CEO R. Scott Shalley. “We commend Governor DeSantis and our legislative leaders for their support of Florida’s families.”

Serving as the state’s second busiest shopping “holiday” behind Black Friday, this year’s list of eligible items includes technology items up to $1,000 (not included in 2018), clothing, shoes and bags costing $60 or less and school supplies $15 or less. Nationally, the average family shopping for K-12 students is expected to be $696.70, the highest in survey history, according to FRF’s national partners at the National Retail Federation’s annual survey. Total spending nationally is expected to be slightly lower than last year, due to fewer families with students in grades K-12, totaling $26.2 billion, down from $27.5 billion.

Families with college students are expected to spend an average of $976.78, which is up from last year’s $942.17 and tops the previous record of $969.88 set in 2017. With fewer respondents saying they are attending college, spending is expected to total $54.5 billion, down from last year’s record $55.3 billion.

Total spending nationally for K-12 schools and college combined is projected to reach $80.7 billion, down from last year’s $82.8 billion largely because of the decreased number of households with children in elementary through high school.

According to the survey, back-to-school shoppers plan to spend the most on clothing ($236.90). In addition, shoppers also plan to spend:

  • $203.44 on electronics such as computers, calculators and phones
  • $135.96 on shoes
  • $117.49 on supplies such as notebooks, pencils, backpacks and lunch boxes.

K-12 families plan to do most of their shopping at department stores (53 percent), discount stores (50 percent), online (49 percent), clothing stores (45 percent) and office supply stores (31 percent).

Among K-12 shoppers, teens are expected to spend an average $36.71 of their own money, up from $30.88 10 years ago, while pre-teens should spend $26.40, up from $11.94 from 10 years ago.

College shoppers plan to spend the most on electronics ($234.69), followed by:

  • $148.54 on clothing and accessories
  • $120.19 on dorm and apartment furnishings
  • $98.72 on food items ($98.72)

They plan to do most of their shopping online (45 percent), followed by department stores (39 percent), discount stores (36 percent), college bookstores (32 percent) and office supply stores (29 percent).

“Consumers desire the ability to shop in different ways and at different times, and retailers have responded by providing innovative shopping options for them to choose from,” said Shalley. “We’re proud of the many technological advancements our retail members have made that ensure everyone’s shopping experience is fun, safe and easy.”

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 18 out of the 22 years since it first began in 1998. This year will mark the 10th year in a row it has taken place.

For more information and a list of qualifying items, please review the Department of Revenue's complete Tax Information Publication (TIP), as well as their Frequently Asked Questions. For your convenience, on their website, they've also provided digital downloads and social media posts for businesses interested in promoting and sharing information about the sales tax holiday.

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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Thursday, 27 June 2019 10:40

Thanks to the efforts of our team at the Florida Retail Federation, the 2019 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday was included in this year's state budget. It was passed by the Florida Legislature and recently signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis. This sales tax holiday begins Friday, August 2, and runs through Tuesday, August 6.

During this period, qualifying items will be exempt from tax including:

  • certain school supplies selling for $15 or less;
  • clothing, footwear, and certain accessories selling for $60 or less;
  • and computers and certain accessories selling for $1,000 or less, when purchased for noncommercial or personal use.

For more information and a list of qualifying items, please review the Department of Revenue's complete Tax Information Publication (TIP), as well as their Frequently Asked Questions. For your convenience, on their website, they've also provided digital downloads and social media posts for businesses interested in promoting and sharing information about the sales tax holiday.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019 14:56

For Immediate Release: May 28, 2019
CONTACT: James Miller This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (850)701-3015

From May 31-June 6, Floridians won’t have to pay sales tax on thousands of items to help them both during and after a disaster; Tarps, batteries, radios, and generators are some of the most popular supplies

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association celebrating more than 80 years of supporting Florida’s retail industry, reminds consumers that May 31-June 6 is the state’s Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday. During this time period, shoppers will not have to pay sales tax on eligible items and supplies that can be used to prepare for and recover from natural disasters that hit the Sunshine State. Hurricane season starts June 1.

“With hurricane season here, this Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday comes at a great time by drawing attention to the need to be prepared for a storm and providing Florida families with millions in needed tax relief,” said FRF President/CEO R. Scott Shalley. “I want to thank Governor DeSantis for including this holiday is his original budget and our legislative leaders for their hard work this past session to ensure it was funded.”

The Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 31 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, June 6. During the holiday, sales tax will not be collected on the following popular items (for a complete listing of these items and other information, please click here):

  • 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 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.

Additional information regarding the 2019 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday, including a list of qualifying items, promotional materials and FAQs, has been posted to the Department of Revenue’s website.

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.

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Tuesday, 07 May 2019 08:44

For Immediate Release: May 6, 2019
CONTACT: James Miller, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (850)701-3015

Highest spending amount ever expected this year as families celebrate moms with gifts, jewelry, events, flowers andmore

TALLAHASSEE, FL - The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association representing retailers for over 80 years, says record spending is expected for this Mother’s Day as per person spending should come close to $200. Total spending nationally is expected to exceed $25 billion, also a record.

“Mother’s Day has traditionally been one of the highest per person spending events, and this year is no different as we expect records to be broken both locally and nationally,” said FRF President & CEO R. Scott Shalley. “Floridians are excited to celebrate mothers, and we are eager to see how retailers respond to this record-setting demand for gifts, jewelry, flowers and more.”

Mother’s Day spending is expected to total a record $25 billion this year, up from $23.1 billion in 2018, according to FRF’s partners at the National Retail Federation’s recent survey. A total 84 percent of U.S. adults are expected to celebrate in honor of their mothers and other women in their lives.

While the number of people celebrating Mother’s Day is in line with last year's86 percent, those celebrating are expected to spend more at an average $196 compared with $180 in 2018. Consumers ages 35-44 are likely to spend the most at an average of $248, up from $224, and men are likely to spend more than women at $237 compared with $158.

Newer models of gift-giving including special outings and gift cards are growing, in addition to more traditional gifts including flowers, greeting cards, and jewelry. Increased spending on jewelry represents 31 percent of the expected increase over last year.

According to the survey, consumers plan to purchase the following for Mother’s Day:

Gift category

Percent planning to purchase

Expected average
per person spending*

Expected total spending*

Greeting card(s)

75%

$6.64

$843 million

Flowers

67%

$20.31

$2.6 billion

Special outing

55%

$36.41

$4.6 billion

Gift card(s) & certificates(s)

45%

$20.65

$2.6 billion

Clothing or clothing accessories

38%

$18.07

$2.3 billion

Jewelry

35%

$40.87

$5.2 billion

Personal service

24%

$15.80

$2 billion

Housewares or gardening tools

20%

$8.82

$1.1 billion

Books or CDs

20%

$4.28

$544 million

Consumer electronics

15%

$17.15

$2.2 billion

Other

24%

$7.48

$950 million

(* These are national numbers)

Many of those celebrating cited finding something unique (44 percent) as the most important factor when picking out a Mother’s Day gift, followed by one that creates a special memory (39 percent). More than 8 in 10 (81 percent) indicate they will look to retailers for gifting inspiration.

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
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.

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Monday, 29 April 2019 11:05

A state Senate bill that would do just that has met with resistance.

As the legislative session winds down, several good ideas appear destined to fall short of the finish line. One of those good ideas: Requiring online retailers to collect sales taxes. It’s another missed opportunity to level the playing field.

For too long, only retailers with a physical presence in the state had to collect the tax. Their online-only counterparts didn’t. Talk about a competitive disadvantage. The set-up is obviously one-side, but many so-called pro-business legislators still don’t get it.

A tax package moving through the Florida Senate would end the unfairness. The legislation, SB 1112, requires nearly every online retailer to collect the state’s 6 percent sales tax, a move that would net the state about $700 million a year. The bill exempts online companies that sell less than 200 items or $100,000 worth of goods.

For years, U.S. Supreme Count opinions from the 1960s and 1990s prevented states from forcing retailers with no physical locations in the state to collect the tax. Doing so would interfere with interstate commerce, the court concluded. But pressure mounted as online giants such as Amazon captured ever-larger slices of the retail pie and states lost out on needed tax revenue. In 2000, online sales made up less than 2 percent of overall retail sales, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Last year, it was nearly 30 percent.

Floridians who made online purchases from out-of-state retailers were supposed to remit the sales tax directly to the state, but that wasn’t well known and very few people complied. Last year, the Supreme Court woke up to the new economic realities. In a 5-4 opinion, the court said states could require retailers without a physical presence to collect the tax. The change should have been welcome news in Florida, which doesn’t have an income tax and relies more heavily on sales tax revenue. Other states, including Georgia, Colorado and Illinois, already have gone ahead with plans to make online retailers collect the tax.

This isn’t a new tax. The Senate bill simply closes a loophole. Still, the bill, sponsored by Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, has met resistance from his fellow Republicans, who don’t want to look like they are raising taxes.

To his credit, Gruters has pushed back against that misconception and even included a list of tax cuts to offset the extra revenue. He favors slashing the sales tax on commercial rent payments from 5.7 percent to 4.2 percent, which would save business renters about $450 million a year. The bill would also create a 14-day sales tax holiday for disaster preparedness and supplies, and provide a tax cut to insurers that cover remote visits with doctors, known as “telehealth.”

Amazon finally began collecting and remitting the tax on many of its sales in 2014, as it began opening warehouses in Lakeland and other parts of the state. But other sites like Wayfair have resisted.

The time has come to restore free market principles. Fairness demands it. READ MORE

Tampa Bay Times Editorial
www.tampabay.com