HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii consumers shook off their turkey haze and got up early to shop for bargains on Black Friday, raising the hope that it might be a strong holiday season for island retailers.
Ala Moana Center's massive parking garage matrix filled almost immediately Friday morning, and as early as seven o'clock people walking to the largest mall in the Pacific from the surrounding neighborhood.
Michael Zhang reported strong traffic at all three of his Blue Hawaii Surf shops, at Ala Moana, Pearlridge, and Waikele Premium Outlets. "Our sales are already up 10 percent from last year," he said before dawn.
Big box retailers were as busy as the malls. "Our first people in line have been here since Wednesday afternoon," said Shawn Troup, general manager of the Best Buy in Iwilei. "The line stretched in back of the warehouse next-door."
The National Retailers Association predicted a moderately improved holiday shopping season nationwide. After sales fell 3.9 percent in 2008, and rebounded a mere 0.4 percent in 2009, the association was forecasting a 2.3 percent improvement in the 2010 season.
The International Council of Shopping Centers, more optimistic, predicted an increase in sales of 3 percent to 3.5 percent for mall tenants, noting that back-to-school sales had been good and third quarter sales of luxury apparel were up 22 percent from year-ago levels nationwide.
In Hawaii, merchant hopes were raised by third quarter reports of local consumers paying down their credit cards, apparently in preparation for using them to shop now.