Mall offers free events on the first furlough day


POSTED: Saturday, October 24, 2009

Retail analyst Stephany Sofos says she expects Furlough Friday to provide a slight stimulus to some retail outlets, especially coffee shops, fast-food stores and smaller mom-and-pop restaurants and stores that offer inexpensive food and other items.

“;I don't know if it's going to be a major contribution (to the economy),”; Sofos said, noting that furloughed state workers will also be seeing an 8 percent drop in pay because of the unpaid furlough days.

At Pearlridge Center yesterday the mall was about 50 percent busier than on a normal Friday, said spokeswoman Deborah Sharkey.

The center offered free Family Furlough Friday activities, including workshops on science, Hawaiian language, arts and crafts, music and way-finding with the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Sharkey said the shopping mall offered the workshops as a service to customers, most of whom are parents, rather than an attempt to capture a Furlough Friday crowd.

“;We really wanted to do something for the community,”; Sharkey said. She said the center has not decided whether it will offer the workshops again on the next Furlough Friday date.

“;I think we, like everybody else, are hoping there won't really be 17 furlough days,”; Sharkey said.

But the Fridays will be like a three-day weekend for some people, Sofos said. And shopping, she said, can be an inexpensive and entertaining family outing.

“;There are a lot of things that don't cost a lot, but can give a major impact of entertainment,”; she said.

“;What are you going to do? You have your kids. Some people don't want to go to the beach,”; Sofos said. “;It's retail therapy.”;