All major Oahu mallsStar-Bulletin staff
ring up sales gains
After more than a year of negative monthly sales reports, Ala Moana Center and the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center in Waikiki had slight gains in January.
The two malls depend heavily on tourist business and have been feeling the brunt of Asia's economic crisis and the slowdown in Japanese visitor arrivals.
The shopping centers reported lower monthly sales figures all of last year and finished the year down -- 16 percent at Ala Moana and 24 percent at Royal Hawaiian.
But both centers recorded gains of less than 2 percent in January sales, compared with weak January 1998, as the two malls benefited from a stronger yen.
Elsewhere on Oahu, the use of Christmas gift certificates and other promotions helped suburban malls also post positive numbers in January.
Statewide retail sales, however, were at $1.109 billion for the month, down 5.9 percent from $1.179 billion in January 1998, according to state Department of Taxation records.
Here's a look at the major Oahu malls' results for January, the most recent month available, provided to the Star-Bulletin by the shopping centers.
Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center: Sales rose 1.3 percent, said Charlian Wright, marketing director.
This was the center's first positive month since May 1996, said Richard Wong, shopping center president.
He didn't have a simple answer for the change. "It's difficult to say this is due to any one thing," Wong said.
The center found that about half of the high-end designer shops had increased sales figures in January, Wright said.
Ala Moana Center: Sales gained 1.91 percent, said Dwight Yoshimura, general manager. The first positive month since November 1997. The center attributed the January increase to more spending by Japanese and local residents and better sales figures at Liberty House.
In other mall news, the Panini Grill Too! food kiosk opened in January. Other openings this year include Dooney & Bourke, which sells leather products; L&L Drive Inn/Chopsticks Express; and Sephera, selling cosmetics and fragrances.
Victoria Ward Centers: Sales grew by 5.9 percent, said Valery O'Brien, managing director of marketing. She said post-Christmas sales and use of Christmas gift certificates helped boost the January sales.
O'Brien also noted that Office Depot and Cotton Cargo, a women's clothing store, opened on Monday.
Kahala Mall: Business rose 6.29 percent, said Laurie Hara, marketing director. "Local traffic was steady and we had an increase in tourists, both Japanese and westbound visitors."
The shoppers responded to January sales and a health fair, Hara said.
Pearlridge Center: Sales were up 4.9 percent, said Marty Lastner, general manager. "By in large, the main reason we were up in January was the strong gift certificate sales in the Christmas season," Lastner said. "We had a lot of redemptions of those."
Windward Mall: Business gains 1 percent, said Sandi Oguma, marketing director. "We ran a promotion where we gave away real silver bars," Oguma said. Five silver bars, each valued at about $1,000, were raffled off to shoppers.
Oguma also noted that Trade Secrets, a shop selling hair care products, opened in March.