Take one look down Cape Coral Parkway and you see it.
People are walking into shops that two years ago saw business slow to a trickle, and many of them are leaving with something in hand.
As the holiday season comes to a close, local shop owners generally seem happy with how business has been, whether it be a big box, department store or small independent shop.
It's just one more sign the city of Cape Coral is on the forefront of the economic recovery, industry leaders say.
John Michael's Jewelers on Cape Coral Parkway has seen a big difference since moving to a new location at Big John's Shopping Center three weeks ago.
"We've been doing well. There's been a steady flow and it's better from last year and the year before," said Carol Michael, who has worked for her brother's shop for 27 years. "We're in a bigger location and I see improvement up to 30 percent from last year."
Michael said she sees something more important than people coming in, ready to spend money.
"I see good things. The attitude is better. People aren't as afraid to spend money. They're freer," Michael said. "Three years ago, it was down."
Down the street, Razzle Dazzle, the women's clothing store, also has seen a nice uptick in business, though because his store operates a little differently, the increase hasn't been as pronounced.
"It's been busier than last year, but still spotty at times," said Ralph Sanziovanni, the store's owner. "We don't really have people come to purchase gifts. Women come to purchase for themselves."
Sanziovanni, who is also a Realtor, added he's noticed a trend as well, with more people returning to Cape Coral to live and shop.
At area department stores, like Belk, the trend is also up.
"Sales are up 5 percent from last year during the holiday season and 7 percent for the year," said Kathy Norwood, general manager of the store at the Shops on Surfside at 2342 Surfside Blvd. in Cape Coral . "A lot of people are doing shopping for others and themselves."
Belk, which opened in 2007, has bucked convention by seeing annual growth despite the bad economy of the past few years.
"Our store hasn't been affected. I think it boils down to customer service," Norwood said. "Other stores can't say the same thing. We don't advertise a lot, we just make it special."
The news reflects what the National Retail Federation showed last month.
Retail sales increased 0.8 percent seasonally adjusted from October and increased 4.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
The NRF expected holiday sales to grow 4.1 percent over last holiday season.