Last-minute deals abound


POSTED: Friday, December 25, 2009

With one day left and the clock ticking, shoppers flocked to island malls on Christmas Eve to get some last-minute purchases.

Retailers rolled out discounts and sales promotions in a final push to get their cash registers ringing this holiday season.

Renee Chang-Yamada of Kaneohe, exiting Macy's at Windward Mall yesterday, was one of those shoppers. She needed some help getting a tall pile of gifts — including dozens of massage pillows and massage chairs — loaded into her car.

“;I actually thought I was through shopping, but I wanted to give more,”; she said. “;I'm in a giving mood.”;

The National Retail Federation forecasts a 1 percent decline in U.S. holiday sales this year compared with last year.

Based on the federation's 2009 holiday survey, less than half of shoppers had completed their holiday shopping by the second week of December. Most last-minute shoppers are expected to hit discount stores and department stores this year.

Oahu malls were nevertheless packed with shoppers yesterday.

At Windward Mall, kids were still lining up to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas, and enjoying the snow flurry tree. By lunchtime the newly renovated food mall was full.

Many boutiques at the mall were holding discounts of 20 to 30 percent.

Mike Tom, manager of Let's Party Hawaii by Price Busters, which opened in September, said the store has been offering 50 percent off since the season started.

Sales have been steady, and customers have been attracted by the broad selection of toys, including Hello Kitty tea sets and gingerbread houses.

While the focus was on Christmas trees and ornaments earlier, he said, many shoppers are now coming in for toys, wrapping paper and gift bags.

“;People still like to get something extra at the end,”; he said.

Alberta Sanders of Kaneohe had a cart full of last-minute gifts from Price Busters for her five children and two great-grandchildren. She had to sneak away to get some Christmas shopping done.

This year she's offering simple, thoughtful gifts and then giving the children envelopes filled with money.

“;Today, grandparents really get involved,”; she said. “;We're so fortunate because we're retired and our times were good. I just love my grandchildren. They keep us young and keep us going.”;

Finding a parking spot at Pearlridge Center proved to be a challenge yesterday. Cars circled the lot, and shoppers waited in long checkout lines.

“;We're seeing cars where we normally don't see cars,”; said Fred Paine, Pearlridge Center's manager.

He said the mall posted gains in September and October, and expects November and December to be strong as well.

Even fine jewelry stores, like Michael's Jewelry and Island Legacy, which typically suffer in a down economy, were doing well this year.

Michael Parker, who owns both stores at Pearlridge, said sales are up about 15 percent over last year. Couples are getting engaged and renewing their vows, he said.

For the first time, Parker said he also decided to offer a sale.

“;When the world is full of uncertainty, people start looking at relationships differently,”; he said. “;Fine jewelry isn't the most practical gift, but it's the most lasting gift a person can give.”;

Many shoppers at the center yesterday were also focused.

;[Preview]    Holiday shoppers scramble for presents

Holiday shoppers hit panic mode as they rushed to finish their holiday shopping.

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Paul and Keith Carter, a father-and-son shopping team from Waianae, pulled bench duty yesterday at Pearlridge. The two watched the goods as the rest of the family sought Christmas Eve specials.

“;This is our strategy,”; said Paul Carter as he sipped a soda and watched frantic hoards of shoppers. “;We shop the last-minute specials every year, and this year I can tell you that it's really, really crowded. We parked way out in the boonies.”;

In preparation for the day after Christmas, many retailers have already advertised upcoming sales for tomorrow.


Star-Bulletin reporter Allison Schaefers contributed to this report.