The Florida retail market has been the No. 1 source of U.S. economic growth in the last six years, according to the latest Census data.
That’s according to Dan Dittrich, president of the Florida Retail Industry Association.
“We’ve seen incredible growth and I don’t think anybody’s seen it in a very long time,” he said.
The Florida market is one of the largest in the country, according the National Retail Federation, with more than 7 million jobs in the state.
“In the last three years, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of growth,” Dittbricsaid.
“There are now almost three million jobs.
It’s a great story and one that we’re excited about.”
The growth has been driven by a growing number of retailers that have begun to expand their footprint in the Sunshine State.
In 2017, the Florida Department of Business and Economic Development, which regulates the state’s food service, retail and entertainment industries, estimated that the Florida retail industry generated $1.4 billion in economic impact.
The group estimates the state could have $4.6 billion in annual economic growth.
“We’re seeing a lot of consolidation in Florida.
It just really doesn’t get much bigger than that,” Ditrich said.
In the past, Florida was known for its large and dynamic retail business.
But as more retailers move to the state, so too have smaller businesses.
And now, Dittbros said, it’s getting harder for them to compete.
“If they’re not willing to go there and compete, we’re going to see them go elsewhere,” he added.
Dittrich said the industry’s growth is part of a nationwide trend.
“I think there’s a lot more retail going in Florida,” he noted.
“And I think the more retail that’s going in, the more we see the national economy and the national jobs.”
He pointed to a number of reasons for the industry to grow in the past.
For one, there is an increase in competition among retailers in the industry.
“It’s been the case for a number, you know, 20 years now, in terms of the number of new retailers coming into the industry,” Dattrich said, noting that retailers are increasingly using technology to get in touch with customers and expand their customer base.
Ditts said the growth has also come at a time when the federal government is cutting back on the size of the state government.
“That’s what’s really keeping the state economy growing,” he explained.
“So I think it’s kind of a balancing act, I think, to be able to grow the economy without cutting taxes and regulations.”
In addition, Ditbrics said, Florida’s economy has become more dependent on tourism, which is now at its lowest level in the nation.
“When you have that kind of downturn, you lose that kind, you can’t really have a big, strong economy,” he remarked.
“There are some things that are happening that I’m excited about, but I also think it is very important to remember the state is still very dependent on its tourism economy,” Dettrich said of the economic growth, noting a number industries are struggling to find new jobs.
“Trip demand is at an all-time low, and you have to keep the tourism business going to keep it going.”
Dittbric said the state needs to do a better job of keeping its economy afloat.
“You know, we need to be a little more entrepreneurial,” he stated.
“The state is in the middle of a massive job recovery.
There’s not a lot left to do.
We need to keep doing that.”