Seasonal cheer extends beyond holidays


POSTED: Tuesday, December 29, 2009
This story has been corrected. See below.

Hawaii merchants heard cash registers ringing this year, and are optimistic that this holiday season will be better than last year.

The day after Christmas is typically one of the busiest shopping days of the year, not only as customers bring in gifts to return or exchange, but redeem gift cards and scope out bargains.

Windward Mall was packed over the weekend, according to General Manager Jonathan Kim, as shoppers responded to sales for Macy's and Sears, and came in for the expected returns and exchanges.

Official sales figures won't be available until Jan. 7 or later, when major chains report their December numbers.

But according to MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse report, which tracks cash, credit card and check payments, spending nationwide between Nov. 1 and Thursday rose 3.6 percent, an improvement from the 2.3 percent drop the same period a year ago.

There was an extra day in this year's holiday season, however, which when accounted for would adjust the increase to about 1 percent. Overall, spending was more stable this year, according to the report, and retailers were more prepared.

While winter storms caused some concern on the East Coast, the weather in Honolulu averaged a sunny 80 degrees Fahrenheit this week.

“;We were pretty busy on the day after Christmas,”; said Kelly Kauinana, marketing manager for Kahala Mall. “;The word around town from merchants here is that they sold more gift cards than in years past.”;

At Pearlridge Center there was no frantic rush the day after Christmas to return items or cash in gift cards, according to Manager Fred Paine. But by afternoon the mall was busy.

Merchants gave mixed reports, with some reporting sales were up and others reporting sales were down. Many were more aggressive with discounts of anywhere between 40 percent and 60 percent on Christmas Eve, he said.

A few found their inventory wiped out during the holiday season.

Paine said he was confident the volume of Christmas train ridership and Santa photos this year were above last year's. He does not expect to get sales figures for merchants until Jan. 20.

Many retailers, meanwhile, are keeping the momentum going with post-Christmas sales, in hopes of making cash registers chime one more time before 2010.

Macy's was offering a 10 percent additional discount on sales items yesterday, and was open at 6 a.m. the day after Christmas. Nordstrom started its half-yearly sale for men the day after Christmas.

At Ala Moana Center the Disney Store was offering its Twice Upon a Year Sale of 40 percent off items in its stores, which officially started yesterday. Victoria's Secret, meanwhile, is continuing its buy one, get one for a 50 percent-off bra sale until Jan. 1.

Many other boutiques at the center were also advertising 50 percent-off sales.

Ala Moana Center is promoting its “;Fukubukuro”; special on Friday. Participating merchants at the center will be offering sealed grab bags filled with merchandise for 50 percent of the retail value, as part of the Japanese New Year's tradition. Neiman Marcus, Gucci and Betsey Johnson are among dozens of merchants participating.





        » The photograph, identified as being taken at Ala Moana Center in the orginal posting, was actually taken at Windward Mall.