Isle stores see green on Black Friday


POSTED: Saturday, November 29, 2008

By the looks of it, Black Friday for many of Hawaii's major retailers will indeed be black instead of red this year.



;[Preview]Hawaii Residents Stake Out Good Bargains

Thousands of Hawaii residents camped out at their favorite stores for Christmas deals on Black Friday.


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  Despite national forecasts of dismal holiday sales, shoppers were out in full force at Hawaii's malls and retail centers on the most popular shopping day of the year.

Some were out as early as midnight, when the Disney Store at Ala Moana Center and KB Toys at Windward Mall opened their doors, while others spent early-morning hours in line to catch door-buster specials at stores like Best Buy, Sears, Kmart, Home Depot and Toys R Us.

“;We took a visual count at about 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., and we noticed the 6 a.m. traffic picked up this year,”; said Matt Derby, spokesman for Ala Moana Center, Hawaii's largest mall. “;There were more shoppers at the mall, and there are a lot of shopping bags being carried around. We're optimistic.”;

Merchants, bracing for a tougher year, marketed special sales and promotions aggressively to bring customers through their doors. Some, like Waikele Premium Outlets, took the strategy of starting their sales earlier.

Ala Moana Center offered free valet coupons online, 1,000 free cups of coffee from Nordstrom's Ebar and the chance to win a $500 shopping spree and a parking stall at the mall for all of 2009.

“;I'm very encouraged,”; said Fred Paine, Pearlridge's general manager. “;I didn't know what to expect this morning, and I'm pleasantly optimistic, at least for today.”;

Although the fall season was slow, customers started lining up a day early for sales at Circuit City and Toys R Us, Paine said. At Macy's, which opened at 5 a.m., customers were lined up to make purchases at the registers.

“;Several of our merchants say they're doing as well as last year,”; he said. “;It's been very positive. I'm encouraged.”;

The National Retail Federation predicted earlier this week that lower gas prices plus pent-up demand would offer a silver lining for this weekend's shopping based on its Black Friday shopping survey.

Nevertheless, only 128 million indicated they would shop this weekend, down from 135 million last year. The majority—81 percent—were heading to a discount store, while 78 percent were going to department stores and 63 percent shopping for electronics.



;[Preview]Local Residents Buy Locally On Black Friday

While many flocked the shopping malls, many others made purchases to support small local businesses.


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  NRF forecasted sales this holiday season would rise only 2.2 percent to $470.4 billion, well below the 10-year average of 4.4 percent, due to lack of confidence in the economy.

Earlier this month the International Center for Shopping Centers also cut its forecast for U.S. chain-store holiday sales to only 1 percent versus a 1.7 percent increase.

Discounters such as Wal-Mart are expected to fare best in this economy.

“;Even though the economy has hit people's pocketbooks, the retailers have hit back really hard, too,”; said Derby of Ala Moana Center. “;They have unbelievable shopping deals, promotions and door-buster specials. I think they're more competitive this year than last in response to the economy.”;

Beth Tom, president of discount chain Price Busters, was confident she will actually be ahead in sales this year compared with last year.

“;We're mobbed,”; she said.

Still, the store offered this year for the first time a 25 percent discount this weekend.

Windward Mall drew in hundreds yesterday morning with 500 door-buster gift bags, including prizes like a Nintendo Wii and a Tahitian pearl necklace, according to general manager Jonathan Kim.

The amount of shoppers did not reflect a recession, as some economists have dubbed the state of Hawaii's economy.

“;You wouldn't know it from looking at the crowd,”; Kim said.

Two types of shoppers dominated the shopping scene yesterday: those hunting for the best deals and those who have not been affected by the recession.

Alan Nomura, a cosmetic dentist, said he is not planning to cut back on gifts at all this year.

“;I'm busier than before this whole economic mess,”; said Nomura, who had his hands full with several shopping bags at Ala Moana yesterday. “;I think you just have to keep a positive attitude—a lot of it is fueled by fears.”;

There were also international shoppers, like Atsuko Nakanishi of Yokohama, Japan, and Rheally Carreon of Manila, who were shopping at Ala Moana while on vacation.

Carreon stood watch over several large shopping bags yesterday. She and her family hit the Disney Store at midnight, followed by Ross and Wal-Mart at 5 a.m., to load up on gifts to take home.

At least 200 people stood in line to get into the Disney Store at midnight, according to store manager Marge Kawashima, for a sale that ended at noon.

But people were still shopping even after noon.

“;We're not disappointed,”; Kawashima said. “;I think when it comes to children, grandparents and parents always think of children first. That's the beauty of it.”;