The cash registers are ringing loudly around Manatee County with last-minute shoppers. If you finished up your shopping last weekend like I did, you may have thought "What bad economy?" as parking lots and store aisles were packed. I've talked with many local retailers this holiday season who say they are pleased with sales this year.
The Florida Retail Federation and the National Retail Federation expect holiday sales will be up 3 to 4 percent this year. But as I looked at how retailers have fared all year for tomorrow's retail industry report, I found they've been doing quite well in 2010.
Year-to-date sales tax collections through November for Manatee County total $226 million, up from $204.5 million over the same period in 2009, according to the Florida Department of Revenue. Click here for comparable tax collection data starting in 2003.
Retailers expect the spending momentum to carry over to 2011 as they believe the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts and a possible reduction in debit card transaction fees will put more money in consumers' pockets.