Florida retailers have added tens of thousands of jobs over the last year, and those in the industry are optimistic the trend will continue.
Florida Retailers added 55,000 new jobs from December 2012 to December 2013. Rick McAllister, CEO of Florida Retail Federation, said stores saw a 3 to 4 percent increase over the holidays.
“We really expected it to continue the trend that we’d seen over the last 24 months, which has been a good, healthy, steady increase," said McAllister.
To keep growing, retailers have a legislative wish list. It includes three tax-free holidays: One for school supplies, another for hurricane preparedness, and one for energy star appliances.
“Florida’s families need tax relief, and tax relief also energizes sales,” McAllister said.
One of every three jobs created in 2013 were in the retail industry. Retailers fear losing market share to online dealers unless the state starts collecting the tax already owed on Internet sales.
Current law exempts businesses without a brick and mortar presence in the state.
“They’re going to sell it seven to seven and a half percent cheaper than we can do it because we have to tax it. That’s just not fair,” said Randy Miller, vice president of Florida Retail Federation.
Construction was the only industry that grew faster than retail last year, good news for retailers because growth in the construction industry helps other industries.
“Thank God for that because we all know and learned during the recession the construction and housing industry has such a huge impact on our state economy,” McAllister said.
Gov. Rick Scott is proposing a 10-day back-to-school sales tax holiday.
The last time a hurricane preparedness tax holiday took place was in 2007.