Black Friday still brings big business for some stores
Even with pandemic, shift to online, shoppers still lined up for deals
KAHULUI — Christmas music filled the air and red and green decorations were already hung with care as crowds of shoppers swarmed Queen Ka’ahumanu Center in search of discounts and deals on Friday.
Promoting major Black Friday sales and special releases in hats and T-shirts, One Eighty Maui attracted a long line of gift shoppers to the mall that eventually stretched past the seasonal See’s Candies shop.
One Eighty Maui, which opened in 2004, was offering its annual sale of 40 percent off the entire store from 6 to 8 a.m. and then 30 percent off after that until 10 p.m.
“So far, so good. There’s a lot of excitement,” owner Chris Akahoshi said a few hours after opening the doors. “We have a good community support. For us to still be here, it’s because of the community’s support for sure.”
Due to COVID-19 protocols and restrictions, in-person dining, shopping and playing may have slowed, but Akahoshi said “it’s definitely busier” this year.
The day after Thanksgiving usually marks the first day of holiday shopping, though most consumers started a long time ago as big retailers began displaying festive merchandise and decor following Halloween.
According to a survey by Statista, only about 19 percent of people in the U.S. begin the Christmas gift hunt on or after Thanksgiving while 43 percent of respondents said they start before October even ends.
Still, the anticipation of Black Friday discounts drew many shoppers to Maui’s malls and local businesses this week.
The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, predicts that overall holiday sales will grow this year. For November and December, sales will increase between 8.5 and 10.5 percent over 2020 — holiday sales still increased about 8 percent in 2020 when shoppers spent their money on pajamas and home goods amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Already spending hundreds of dollars on gifts each year, shoppers nationwide are also expected to pay on average between 5 to 17 percent more for toys, clothing, appliances, TVs and other items on Black Friday in comparison to last year, according to Aurelien Duthoit, senior sector advisor at Allianz Research.
While Black Friday inspires crazed shopping sprees for holiday gifts, online purchases at stores like Amazon and other online retailers are still rising in popularity.
The shopping weekend continues today with Small Business Saturday and then Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving filled with online deals, is also just around the corner.
However, window signs islandwide advertised sales ranging from 20 to 50 percent off or “buy one get one” bargains, including Hawaiian Island Creations (HIC Surf), Hi-Tech, Mahina and San Lorenzo Paia.
At American Eagle, where shoppers could get 30 percent off any item in the store, Manager Lance Barayuga said that things have been “a lot slower than last year or two years ago, but the influx of traffic has been great still.”
Reaching about five years with the clothing company, Barayuga transferred to Maui in July from Oahu’s Ala Moana Center, the ninth-largest mall in the nation and the world’s largest open-air shopping center.
He said “it’s slow-paced here” considering that there’s significantly less stores in the Ka’ahumanu Center to shop at.
“Foot traffic is inclining though, which is great,” he added.
“The company has done a really good job at making sure the employees feel safe and of course, the guests — we offer hand sanitizer and masks,” he added. “Everything feels normal except the masks.”
Just down the street, the Maui Mall Village seemed quiet around 9 a.m. despite the Black Friday craze and promotions, though foot traffic picked up a bit more as the day went on.
At the Outlets of Maui in Lahaina, the shops extended their hours of operations to open at 6 a.m. all weekend long.
Holiday shoppers lined up to check out Black Friday discounts at different stores within The Shops at Wailea while families and friends gathered for Santa’s arrival.
According to a news release, guests had the opportunity to take free photos with Santa, who sat behind a storefront window for health and safety, and receive peppermint macadamia nut cookies from Honolulu Cookie Company.
Though people were still wearing masks and hand sanitizing stations were at storefronts, shopper Christine Oshita said that the holiday season “feels more normal” than last year in the midst of the pandemic.
“I want to get some good deals for Christmas gifts,” said Oshita while carrying a large bag full of items from Bath & Body Works in Kahului, which was offering a “buy three, get three” deal. “I’m not a big shopper at all, but I am off today and I wanted to come to the mall — I haven’t come here in a long time. It’s nice to see that it’s busy.”
Bath & Body Works, well known for its holiday scented candles and body washes, had a line from the cash register running through the middle of the store and out the door.
After walking the mall for gifts for her kids and co-workers, Oshita said she might check out the discounts at Costco Wholesale.
While other big retailers like Walmart, Macy’s, TJ Maxx and Target have been advertising Black Friday sales or similar for weeks, both in store and online, sales and a giveaway opportunity at a local Maui clothing company, Na Koa Brand, are only running from Thanksgiving Day to Monday.
Since 2013, Na Koa Brand has been producing men’s, women’s and keiki apparel that resemble different Polynesian tattoo styles and handmade jewelry.
The store has a location in Kahului and a seasonal pop-up at The Shops at Wailea, as well as an online presence that “carried us” through the pandemic, said District Manager Jaycee Medeiros on Friday.
“Maybe it was the fear of going out, but people were shopping online constantly, so because we had that online store, we didn’t really go through a struggling period,” she said.
Though there was a line first thing in the morning, foot traffic into the store seemed to settle down by early afternoon.
“This year wasn’t as busy, but we’ve still had a lot of traffic,” Medeiros said.
Aloha shirts and jewelry have been “flying off the shelf.”
“Those items are super popular on normal days, so on Black Friday it’s been a little busier.”
* Dakota Grossman can be reached at email@example.com.