Three Great Holiday Things To Do In St. Maarten: Shop, Shop, Shop

Floridas holiday shopping projected to rise 4.5 percent, lifted by tourists spending

On the rocks or over ice cream, take home a gift that says Made in Sint Maarten. Vogue clothing makers are creating watches. Watch companies are selling clothing. A jaunt through more than 500 stores reveals some fresh surprises Tag Heuer hats, Tommy Hilfiger watches. But should you be lazy, seduced by palm-fringed resorts like French St. Martins La Samanna, remember there is always a convenient collection of airport shops and growing selection at the cruise ship pier.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald file, 2009 Buoyed by a boom in visitors, the uptick in holiday shopping in the Sunshine State is predicted to outpace that of the nation this year, the Florida Retail Federation said Friday. Retailers in Florida are expected to reap a 4.5 percent jump statewide during the November-December season, compared to national forecasts that point to a 3 percent to 4 percent increase, said Florida Retail Federation President and Chief Executive Rick McAllister. We are having a great resurgence in tourism in the state of Florida, which is what separates us from the rest of the nation, said McAllister, who revised his prediction upward Friday morning after Visit Florida reported 2.5 million more visitors through the third quarter, as compared to the same period last year, with a total of 72.6 million visitors year-to-date. Clearly Florida has a tremendous advantage this time of year, particularly over other states, due to tourists heavy spending, McAllister said. The holiday season, which can account for up to 40 percent of annual revenue, is a critical time for retailers. The National Retail Federation, the nations largest retail trade group, expects an increase of 3.9 percent over last year, for a total of $602.1 billion in holiday sales, compared to $579.5 billion in sales for 2012s holiday season. An improved economy with lower unemployment, a rebounding housing market and greater consumer confidence also point to a better year for Floridas retailers, McAllister said.