Shopping in Florida
If you are used to European prices, particularly prices in the UK then Florida is a real bargain; especially for things like clothes, jewellery, photographic and golf equipment. Do bear in mind though that prices quoted in shops do not usually include the Florida State Tax or any local county taxes. Expect to pay around 6 to 7% sales tax on most items.
However, do think about the amount you intend to bring back through customs and how you are going to carry it! The last thing you need is to spoil your holiday by having to pay for going over your luggage allowance and duty to the customs officer. Do check your allowances before you leave for Florida.
Shopping Mall [Photograph by Tom Lane]
One good idea is not to take too much with you in the first place, just buy it when you get there.
A good place to start is at one of the many Factory Outlet Malls such as Prime Outlets (formerly Belz Factory Outlet Mall) at the top of International Drive in Orlando. You will get a discount, but it may not be huge.
The area around the Belz is also good for photographic equipment, golf stuff, and diamonds!
There are lots of malls such as the Florida Mall at the junction of Sandlake Road and Orange Blossom Trail, also in Orlando. This is a super mall with four department stores and hundreds of smaller shops.
The department stores are very good for children's clothes, and check out the prom dresses if your daughter is have a school leaving ball - great prices and she will be unique!
These sorts of malls usually have lots of jewellery stores and often have great "loss leaders" to tempt you into the store. They also have food courts where you can pick up a bite to eat.
If you are after bargains and they don't have to be a "designer label", try places like Payless Shoes. These are situated all over, especially in smaller mall or outlets. We have always managed to pick up bargains here. Leather trainers can be had for $20 (£13.50) or less. Wear an old pair for the journey over, discard them there and wear the new ones home!
In some of the smaller outlets and malls there is a store called Beales (pronounced Bells). There are loads of discounted items, and we have found that even if an item is not marked as on sale, it is mostly discounted at the till. You will not believe some of the prices!
If you don't mind rummaging through the racks, check out TJ Maxx or Ross.
And then there are ... WalMart and KMart. Both are hypermarkets and have branches all over the state ( and the whole of the USA). KMart are not as big as they used to be, WalMart is huge world-wide (owns ASDA in the UK).
Both sell almost everything but only the very largest branches sell the whole range of groceries. These stores are unbeatable for children's clothing, leisure wear, underwear and linens. If you are a stitcher, check out the DMC floss at WalMart (about 20p per skein!).
For general food shopping, Publix and Winn-Dixie are both good and have branches throughout the state.
If you are looking for tools, then head to Home Depot. Remember though that US power supply is only 110v so be sure electrical tools will still work back home.