At the Waikiki Macy's, there's no such thing as a holiday
Bucking the norm, three major Waikiki retail places do not close their doors on Christmas Day
Because of procrastination, about three-quarters of holiday shoppers haven't finished their shopping, according to the latest consumer surveys from the International Council of Shopping Centers.
But in Waikiki, where retail shopping centers are open even on Christmas Day, it's no worries, braddah.
NOTHING LIKE WAITING UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE
» As of Sunday, only 26 percent of consumers had completed all of their holiday shopping. At this time last year, 31 percent were done.
» As of Sunday, 67 percent of holiday shoppers had indicated that they were more than 50 percent done with their seasonal shopping. At this time last year, 61 percent indicated that they were done.
Source: International Council of Shopping Centers
International shoppers and vacationing tourists from the mainland are expected to cover the landscape at Macy's, Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and International Market Place like snowflakes in Vermont.
"We're open 365 days a year," said Anne Murata, marketing director for the Festival Cos., which manages the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center.
While the three pillars of Waikiki retail may almost never sleep, they're the exception rather than the rule. Even as more and more stores across the country are opening Thanksgiving Day, most retailers don't include Christmas Day in with their extended holiday hours, said Michael Niemira, chief economist for the International Council of Shopping Centers.
"I don't think there is a huge groundswell among retailers to open on that day," Niemira said. "In many cases, I think the costs would exceed the revenue."
Although there is research to support that more shoppers are procrastinating this year and some are choosing to spend part of Christmas Day cashing in their gift cards on the Internet, actual store openings on the holiday are still politically sensitive, he said.
"I don't think it's going to be the wave of the future," Niemira said. Many consumers likely would be annoyed if traditional stores that weren't in resort communities opened on Christmas Day.
Niemira cited a recent Gallup poll, conducted Dec. 5 to 8, as support for the idea that when it comes to the commercialism of holidays, consumers might draw the line at Christmas Day.
According to the poll, 62 percent of Americans say that the now-nearly ubiquitous use of "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings," rather than "Merry Christmas" is a turn for the worse. That's because, according to the poll, 95 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas, whether for cultural or religious reasons.
"Of course no one really seems to complain about Thanksgiving Day or New Year's Day store openings," he said.
Janelle Whitecliff, an employee at one of the Pearl Factory kiosks in the International Market Place, said she's dreading working Christmas Day -- but it's the norm in Waikiki, where tourist demand sets the pace.
Last year, when Whitecliff worked at Ala Moana Center, she was off for Christmas Day, but before that she worked every Christmas, she said.
"Sometimes I don't know why we open," she said. "When I look at my sales, Christmas Day is usually the smallest day of the year."
But, Whitecliff acknowledges that one big-spending visitor could make a difference.
"I think all the shops are hoping for that $1,000 sale," she said.
And, sometimes it happens, Murata said.
"The other day, we had one shopper spend $33,000 in Fendi," she said.
Prolonging the ever-important Christmas shopping season, which accounts for between 25 percent and 40 percent of most retailers' annual sales, makes sense in Waikiki, said Carol Pregill, president of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii.
"The local consumer won't shop on Christmas Day, but every day is a vacation day for our visitors," Pregill said. "The retail industry is Waikiki is just reacting to the demand."
The Waikiki Macy's is the only one on the West Coast or in Hawaii to open for Christmas Day shoppers, but it's a retail strategy that has paid off, said Lavina Wong, director of special events for Macy's West in Hawaii and Los Angeles.
"We've always known that this shop would be a holiday destination," Wong said of the store, which is open 365 days a year.
"During the last several years, we've seen a real trend among visitors who like to shop on Christmas Day in the Waikiki store," she said.
Shopping is part of the experience for many of the tourists who come to Waikiki, said Amy Terada, a vice president with Pleasant Holidays LLC, Hawaii's largest tour wholesaler.
"It sounds crazy but people will be out there shopping, I promise," Terada said. Moreover, the strong influx of visitors to Hawaii this season is likely to make it a particularly festive one for retailers.
"The visitors that come won't want to sit in their hotel rooms," Terada said. "What else is there to do that day if they aren't sitting at home next to the fireplace or hitting the beach?"
The lure of an 11th-hour shopping opportunity is not likely to pull many kamaaina into Waikiki for a Christmas Day retailing experience, said Jarett Antoque, who was doing some last-minute shopping with his family at Pearlridge Center yesterday.
"I don't think that I would personally shop on Christmas Day, " said Antoque, who had just performed a Christmas shopping marathon to round out his gift giving.
Pearlridge Center won't be open on Christmas Day and neither will most of the malls in the Hawaii region or nation, said Fred Paine, general manager at Pearlridge Center.
"I've been in retailing for many years and this is just not something that I've seen done," Paine said.
If the Waikiki market supports Christmas Day shopping, Antoque said he can see why retail stores choose to stay open, but feels bad for the people who work in the business and don't get to spend time with their families.
Although Ala Moana Center, the state's largest shopping mall, caters to a mix of tourists and local residents, it's never been open on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day, said the center's marketing director, Sharon James.
"We try to give our retailers two days a year away from the hustle and bustle of crowds," said James. "It's the gift of some well-deserved quiet time."
However, it's going to be business as usual and then some at Ala Moana Center on Dec. 26, she said.
"The day after Christmas is becoming one of our busiest shopping days of the year," James said. "There are plenty of shoppers who want to use their gift cards or who are looking for after-holiday sales."