The Grinch looks to bypass Sunshine State this holiday season with holiday shopping projected to top the anticipated national rate of $704 per adult, the Florida Retail Federation projected Tuesday.

Statewide, holiday sales are expect to jump as much as 4 percent from last yea's sales -- better than the nation'sexpected 2.8 percent increase, said Rick McAllister, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation.

"Santa is going to be busy this year and he’s hiring plenty of elves," he added. About 35,000 Floridians will be working this month and next in retail jobs to help the anticipated crowds of shoppers, McAllister said.

He attributed his good cheer to the state's strong back-to-school and Halloween sales.

"Florida did better than the national average," McAllister said.

The return on tourists -- particularly the international visitors who spend more -- has been helping the state rebound in retail sales, he added.

"For the past two years now, retail sales have been trending up. That's a sign that we're getting back to normal growth cycle, and that has made retailers more confident in their hiring. We're looking forward to a strong holiday shopping season.

"There's a sense of momentum as we head into next year, and retailers are already aggressively advertising to get shoppers into the buying mood," he added. "Stores are discounting to keep the sales going, so there will be a lot of great bargains to be had next week."

The anticipated strong sales should help the struggling Florida economy: Retail is the state’s second largest industry, McAllister said.

dgehrke@tribune.com, 954-356-4205, On Twitter @donnagehrke