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State Retailers Hope Consumers ‘Find It In Florida’ This Year

Retailers in Florida hope shoppers to spend money in local stores during the next few make or break weeks.
Retailers in Florida hope shoppers to spend money in local stores during the next few make or break weeks.

Black Friday marks the start of the 2020 holiday shopping season — and Florida retailers want shoppers to buy from local businesses. A new campaign to get Florida consumers to buy locally comes after COVID-19 hit the retail sector hard. The disease has changed how and where consumers spend money, and many are expected to do most of their shopping online this year.

Experts also expect retail sales to take a hit this year because of the pandemic. From big box stores to small Main Street boutiques, buying from a local business can substantially boost Florida’s retailers.

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Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation, and Orlando small business owner Daniel Broyles joined hosts Tom Hudson and Melissa Ross on The Florida Roundup.

Here’s an excerpt from the conversation.

Melissa Ross: Tell us about the Retail Federation's ‘Find It In Florida’ campaign — what's the message for shoppers that you're trying to get out this holiday season?

SCOTT SHALLEY: We're just trying to really get everybody to support their neighbors. Florida's retailers account for one in five jobs and the companies that invest in Florida and hire Floridians, they need your help in this difficult year. And it really comes down to supporting the local retailers, whether it's a big box or the small store. And no matter where you shop, we recognize that given the pandemic, a lot of people are going to shop online. And we just ask that you consider doing so with somebody who invests in Florida and has a presence in Florida.

Ross: One in five jobs across the state depend on some kind of retail connection. And so many of those jobs have gone away. How critical is it for your organization, the Florida Retail Federation, that you preserve the ones that are still there?

SHALLEY: It's really critical. As an industry, it was a tough summer. Many of our retailers were completely shut down for a month. And, of course, that trickles down to household incomes and affects people's lives in a significant way. So the fourth quarter in the holiday season is going to be really critical for a lot of our retailers.

The retail community has gone to great lengths to provide a safe shopping experience and provide alternatives in terms of meeting the consumer where they want to to be met and where they feel safe. Whether it's shopping in the store, exercising appropriate safety protocols with distancing and masks and those sorts of things or curbside delivery and of course, the online option as well. So it's really, really important this time of year.

I feel strongly about our local retailers because they are the ones, whether it's the big box or the small store that is supporting the community, paying taxes in the community, supporting the local little league teams and those sorts of things. So we hope folks will keep that in mind as they make their shopping decisions.

Tom Hudson: What kind of business are you expecting in your store for the holidays actually this year?

DANIEL BROYLES: I'm expecting quite a bit of business, judging by the response we've had since things opened back up. And it's been a fairly robust retail season for us.

Hudson: Tell me a little bit more about that. How robust, how has it compared? Tell me how customers and clients are coming through and what are they looking for?

BROYLES: Our store, we do furniture, accessories. We also have jewelry and gift items. It's a fairly small store, but we've got a wide variety of products. So people come in for a variety of reasons, whether they're furnishing a home or just looking for a gift. I have to say, we've been busier with our retail this year than typical once things opened back up and people started moving around more.

Hudson: And to what do you attribute that?

BROYLES: I think it's time they’ve had to spend at home and look around their homes and envision projects. So now they're coming in and looking for furnishings and accessories to work on their homes. And it's been very good for us and other business don’t have that advantage, but that it's been working out well for our business.

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Denise Royal produces The Florida Roundup. Her broadcast experience includes writing and producing for NBC’s The Today Show, Weekend Today, Weekend Nightly News, and MSNBC. She also worked as a Writer/Producer for ABC News and Nightly Business Report on PBS.