Mall activity solid going into critical holiday period
Sales at Ala Moana Center have increased by single digits this year from last year
Oahu's mall managers say holiday sales this year seem to be on track to match last year, even likely to surpass it.
"We're on track to increase sales slightly over last year," said Fred Paine, general manager of Pearlridge Center. "It's upward, and that's good. The merchants are all very upbeat about the season."
Specialty stores at Pearlridge, Paine said, were reporting sales at 6 percent higher than previous years, he said yesterday.
"Ala Moana Center is optimistic about this year's holiday season sales," said Sharon James, regional vice president of marketing for General Growth Properties, "as it looks very promising with a strong single-digit sales increase for the center as a whole over 2005 figures."
James said the holiday shopping period -- from mid-November to December -- represents up to 25 percent of Ala Moana Center's annual sales volume.
Windward Mall opened at 6 a.m. yesterday, offering its own doorbuster: a drawstring backpack filled with coupons and goodies for the first 400 customers.
Mall manager Jonathan Kim is feeling positive about sales this year.
"I think overall we've seen an increase over the year in spending, and hopefully the trend will continue through the holiday season," he said.
He says a long line formed outside of Sears, which opened at 5 a.m. yesterday. KB Toys, which opened at 3 a.m. at Windward Mall, also had a line outside the door.
The mall, which is now about 90 percent occupied, also will welcome a few new tenants in the next few weeks, including Lids, Sanrio and Journeys.
Kahala Mall was one of the few that did not get caught up in the frenzy of opening up early. A few tenants, such as Macy's and KB Toys, chose to do so on their own.
But general manager Ron Yoda says the Saturday before Christmas brought in more sales last year and that Black Friday is becoming less relevant.
"We didn't go along with that early opening," Yoda said. "We're not that type of mall. We wanted to give customers as well as our merchants a chance to enjoy Thanksgiving without having to worry about getting up at the crack of dawn."
The mall opened at 9 a.m. yesterday morning, while Santa arrived at 11 a.m. to pose for photos.
Yoda said he expects sales this year to surpass last year's, due mainly to the low unemployment rate and strong consumer confidence. But it's hard to say whether holiday sales will compensate for the four days the mall lost when it was flooded in March of this year.
"We're looking to maximize sales over the holidays," he said. "But once you lose those days, you can't get it back."
The Kahala 8 theater complex, which has been closed since the flood, is now expected to open in mid-December, Yoda said.
Nationally, Thanksgiving weekend is expected to bring up to 137 million shoppers to retail stores, according to the Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation, which commissions its own survey.
Most of those consumers, according to the federation, will head straight to the electronics and toy sections. Among the hottest items: high definition televisions, life-sized robots, MP3 players and game systems.
The retail group estimates holiday sales will rise 5 percent this year to $457.4 billion.
The International Council of Shopping Centers estimates about 17 percent of U.S. consumers will spend more this holiday season, while 56 percent expect to spend about the same.
On average, consumers are expected to spend about $676 on holiday purchases this year, with men spending a little more, at $717, compared to women at $637.