Ala Moana Shopping Center Bucks Mainland Trend

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Giant malls in cities across the U.S. are suffering. As economic fears spread, shopping centers are empty. Widespread media reports that developers expanding or opening new malls clearly didn't plan on the downturn in the economy. But locally, Ala Moana Shopping Center is thriving.

As mainland malls struggle to sign up tenants this week, managers at Ala Moana Center are showcasing a multi-million dollar expansion, and new two-levels of retail featuring dozens of new shops.

Ala Moana Shopping Center is bustling. The recent expansion a likely profitable addition.

"Ala Moana Center is a true international shopping destination in the Pacific. We are one of three malls nationwide that can claim over a billion dollars a year in sales, " said spokesman Matt Derby.

Malls on the mainland are suffering. Online shopping is growing and credit woes have shoppers cutting back. The recent building frenzy produced a glut retail space.

At Ala Moana, there are nearly 300 stores and 70 places to eat.

About 55% of shoppers are local and 45% visitors.

"I think it's absolutely beautiful. Where else can you go to find a wonderful view at lunch for those of us Kamaaina it's our Waikiki right here and for those on the mainland this is an amazing shopping center," said shopper Lilian Rulon.

"We are one of the most successful malls in the country.  Our dollars per square foot is very high and a lot of the national brands that do come to Ala Moana find their stores usually end up at the top of the list," said Derby.

Nordstrom jumped at the opportunity to open a store here.

"Ala Moana center is one of the nation's best shopping center and we wanted to have a store here for 20 years," said Nordstrom spokeswoman Brooke White.

Managers are confident Ala Moana will weather the retail storm.