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Florida’s holiday shopping could climb by up to 4.5%

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Published:   |   Updated: November 15, 2013 at 10:53 PM

The Florida Retail Federation on Friday projected a 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent increase in sales for the 2013 holiday season compared with last year, despite six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Part of the reason for the optimism is the improving economy, FRF chief executive Rick McAllister said in a conference call with the news media.

In addition, record numbers of tourists have visited Florida this year, and a continuation of that trend over the holiday season will mean a boost in spending on retail shopping, he said.

Through the first three quarters of this year, an estimated 72.6 million people visited the Sunshine State, up by 3.6 percent from the same three quarters last year, according to Visit Florida statistics announced by Gov. Rick Scott at a press conference Friday at Busch Gardens in Tampa.

That’s enough of a gain to add a percentage point to holiday shopping projections, McAllister said.

“Unemployment is down; 401(k)s are up; and visitors are flocking to Florida,” McAllister said. Apparel and electronics will post good sales this holiday season, while the furniture business continues to struggle, he said.

The new PlayStation 4 appears to be the hot item this season, even at about $400, McAllister said. Microsoft’s Xbox One, which also is drawing the attention of gamers, is expected to be released within days.

Tribune reporter Michael Sasso contributed to this report.

tjackovics@tampatrib.com

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