Thousands bargain hunt on Black Friday despite issues with big retailers

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On what's already proven to be one of the busiest shopping days of the year, several of the countries biggest retailers said Friday that they had experienced company-wide system problems that were preventing customers from taking advantage of popular Black Friday deals.

At Pearlridge Center, where thousands of Hawaii shoppers flocked to grab the best Black Friday deals, Macy's announced over loud speakers that it was experiencing problems with its checkout. Various reports indicated that customers nationwide had been impacted by the issue.

Earlier in the day, the website for home improvement giant Lowe's went down temporarily, harkening back to issues suffered by Macy's and Target in 2016.

Locally, retailers were much better able to cater to customers. A line of about a thousand people formed outside the former Marukai Market Place in Ward, which is transformed into an Eden in Love pop-up boutique for the holiday weekend.

The first few people started coming in around midnight, even though doors didn't open until 6 a.m.

"As always every year, so worth it," said Kara Kuewa, the first person in line. "Can't wait to go home with all my goodies."

There were similar stories to be shared at malls like Ala Moana Center and Pearlridge Center, where crowds of eager shoppers began gathering long before stores were scheduled to open.

"I'm starving and I just want to go home and I missed my Thanksgiving dinner because I wanted to wait here," one shopper said.

A number of people started camping out at Best Buy in Aiea as early as Tuesday, and were set to stay put until doors open on Thanksgiving Day.

For 15 friends, the campout at Best Buy has become a holiday tradition.

"People say, 'You're nuts to come here,'" said one of the shoppers, Mike Ulep.

Retailers say they're expecting brisk sales on what's become one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

But they also say that they expect more people to spend a greater portion their holiday loot online.

And they're promising big sales to entice shoppers who have more choices than ever.

About 69 percent of Americans say they're planning to do some holiday shopping between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, according to a new survey from the National Retail Federation.

SLIDESHOW: Black Friday 2017 Deals

"Consumers will benefit from competitive promotions both in stores and online lasting the course of the weekend, allowing them to find the best gifts at the lowest prices," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said.

Of those who said they'd brave the crowds, about 1 in 5 said they planned to shop on Thanksgiving Day.

Any why go to all the trouble — lines, parking woes and crowds? Deals, consumers said.

About 66 percent said they wanted to take advantage of promotions that retailers are offering for Thanksgiving or Black Friday shoppers.

While some retailers have started to shun Thanksgiving Day shopping, others are still embracing it. Among them: Target, Best Buy and Toys "R" Us.

Meanwhile, in an indication of how just how busy Hawaii retailers are expecting Black Friday to be, Waikele Premium Outlets has announced they'll charge $5 for parking in the center's upper lot in an effort to address congestion. Parking in the lower lot is still free.

Last year, Hawaii shoppers said they saw longer lines and bigger crowds for Black Friday. One shopper called it "controlled chaos."

Scores of shoppers camped out in front of their favorite stores, while others invested in a hotel stay to get a jump on their shopping.

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