Monday, November 26, 2001

Macy’s sales ‘very
strong’ in isle debut

Other retailers still are unsure
of their weekend results despite a
report showing a 2.5% gain
in check purchases

By Russ Lynch

Isle retailers this morning were counting their cash register results from the Christmas season kickoff, the first weekend after Thanksgiving, and weren't ready to comment on how they fared compared to last year.

Art Macy's, which had its big opening Friday statewide in what used to be the Liberty House stores, would say only that it was a "very strong" weekend. "We were really very pleased," said a Macy's spokeswoman, Rina Neiman.

Shoppers at Hawaii malls saw lots of brand-new Macy's bags in the hands of other shoppers and the malls were crowded with people, but how much they were actually buying was hard to tell.

With all the big Hawaii retailers discounting heavily it might seem hard to stay even with last year, when holiday shopping was well ahead of the previous year. But by one measure, the TeleCheck report, island stores more than managed to do that, at least on Friday, the first day of the big retail season.

Compared with activity in the same stores on the day after Thanksgiving last year, Hawaii sales were up 2.5 percent. That was a little above the national increase of 2.4 percent, according to the report from TeleCheck Services Inc., a lead check-acceptance company.

TeleCheck measures goods and services paid for by check and says that type of activity makes up nearly a third of all retail purchasing.

That has been questioned by some retailers, who see most of their business done by credit card, but the TeleCheck report at least gives a partial result that can be compared with previous years.

In that respect, Hawaii stores have done well this year with monthly numbers running as much as 5.5 percent over the same month last year, leading the nation in gains in most months and slipping to 3.2 percent only in October, after the Sept. 11 hit on the U.S. economy.

TeleCheck called the national 2.4 percent increase for Friday "good news for retailers" and said it is in line with its own prediction of a total 2 percent increase for the 32-day shopping season leading up to Christmas.

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