Jacksonville, FL - It was a busy day for last-minute holiday shoppers, topping off what many businesses say has been a good season.
“I think we’re gunna look back on this season and see Christmas 2013 was a pretty good year for retail,” says Florida Retail Federation Communications Director John Fleming.
Going in to the season, Fleming says they were forecasting a 3.5-4.5% sales growth over last year.
“We think we’re gunna hit that target, and we think we’re gunna be close to the high end,” he says.
Although at times it has seemed slower in stores, Fleming says that’s because shopping continues to shift online. He says year after year that shift continues to grow. It can make it more challenging for “brick and mortar” stores that aren’t large chains because many online retailers- like Amazon- can get around state sales tax contributions, meaning it’s cheaper for customers to shop online.
But that doesn’t mean that in-store shoppers are missing any big deals.
“The discounts have gotten a lot steeper in recent years,” Fleming says.
He says with retailers already rolling out “after Christmas” deals, it’s no surprise holiday shoppers have grown accustomed to deep discounts, and that trend will likely continue.
Many Northeast Florida retailers are now turning their attention to that after-Christmas shopping rush.
“It’s not much of a ‘return’ holiday, I think people are out looking for those day-after Christmas deals,” says St. Johns Town Center Director of Marketing and Business Development Lindsey VonHoven.
She says as gift cards have become more popular, so has the day-after Christmas shopping day, because consumers are eager to spend the money. At the Town Center this year she says people have been flocking to new stores, like Microsoft. But shoppers are also walking away with lots of clothing, specifically for the recent cold weather.
If you plan to shop at the Town Center, VonHoven says you can take advantage of a new, expanded shuttle system. You can call 904-610-9182 every day between 9 AM and 9 PM for a free shuttle that will pick you up at any one of the Town Center’s 4,000 parking spots and take you from store to store.