Tuesday, December 22, 1998


Mall sales generally lower

Star-Bulletin staff


Major Oahu suburban shopping malls showed mixed results in October, as many shoppers appeared to be holding back on spending until the holiday season.

Malls more dependent on tourists showed double-digit declines for the month, compared with October 1997.

Statewide retail sales were at $1.230 billion for the month, down 10.5 percent from $1.375 billion in June 1997, according to state Department of Taxation records.

Here's a look at the major malls' results for October, the most recent month available, provided to the Star-Bulletin by the malls.

bullet Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center: Sales slumped 20 percent, said Charlian Wright, marketing director. "While hotel occupancy on Oahu was down by roughly 6 percent, the yen rate averaging around 116-117 helped to increase some spending by the eastbound visitors within the center," Wright said.

"Unique new shops like the Ukulele House are attracting westbound and eastbound visitors into the center, as well as local residents."

bullet Ala Moana Center: Sales fell 14 percent, said Dwight Yoshimura, general manager. A sidewalk sale and 15 percent-off promotion helped bring in shoppers, but lower department store sales -- affected by the Woolworth closing -- hurt the overall sales figure, Yoshimura said.

But Yoshimura added that sales, while still not as good as 1997, appear to be getting better. "First reports of November look pretty good," he added.

Opening in November for the holiday season were: KB Express, selling toys; Locals Only Too, a clothing store; and Brookstone, selling electronic products.

Other November openings were: Waldenbooks; Wildflowers, junior apparel; the new Walt Disney Store; and Cove Bar, Hurricane Hut, and Flowers & Fun, all selling food or beverages. In October, the Max Mara women's clothing store opened and the Ala Moana Poi Bowl re-opened.

bullet Victoria Ward Centers: Business slipped 3.5 percent, said Valery O'Brien, managing director of marketing. "This was due to the loss of Computer City," O'Brien said. "Otherwise, we would have been up."

She expects November numbers to be much better with the addition of Pier 1 Imports in the old Computer City building, and the Brew Moon restaurant.

Among the October drops were: big box stores, down 6.2 percent and restaurants, down 4 percent. Strong categories were: specialty and casual wear, up 62 percent; and specialty wear, up 8.5 percent.

A 30,000-square-foot Office Depot will open in the first quarter next year at the corner of Queen and Kamakee streets, O'Brien said.

bullet Kahala Mall: Sales rose 2.54 percent, said Laurie Hara, marketing director.

"We had a sidewalk sale and a good Halloween," Hara said. "We also had a job fair with hiring information from merchants at center stage. We ran out of applications" About 30 stores offered hundreds of jobs for holiday help.

Top gainers were: specialty apparel, up 27.7; specialty retail, up 25 percent; and entertainment, up 24 percent.

Godiva Chocolatier opened on Halloween.

bullet Pearlridge Center: Business was up 6.3 percent, said Heidi DiEugenio, marketing manager. "We had a lot of community events and Halloween was strong," DiEugenio said. "We had an event with the Hawaii Food Bank, where families brought in canned goods."

New stores opening in November were Ethel's dress shop, Gold Mart jewelry store, and Calendar Club, which sells calendars.

bullet Windward Mall: Business dropped 6 percent, said Sandi Oguma, marketing director.

"We think that maybe consumers were hanging on until the holidays," Oguma said. "Merchants said that sales (initial figures) for November and December were better."

Strong categories in October were: jewelry, up 23 percent; women's apparel, up 21 percent; personal services, up 15 percent; men's apparel, up 13 percent; and unisex apparel, up 10 percent.

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