Visions of Retail

Jan 25, 2019

Ala Moana Ewa Wing
Credit Daniel Ramirez / Flickr

The retail sector is a key part of Hawai‘i’s economy — both for sales and for jobs. 2018 was a year of modest growth — and industry leaders expect certain trends to continue in the year ahead.

Everyone knows the Christmas shopping season is critical for retail, but it plays out a little differently in Hawaiʻi. Tina Yamaki, president of Retail Merchants of Hawaiʻi, says that stores catering to visitors see steady sales year round without necessarily seeing a huge bump in the holidays.

Sam Shenkus, vice president and director of marketing for Royal Hawaiian Center, says that for locals, Waikīkī is where people will do last-minute shopping, immediately before the holidays, because they know stores will be open. For a luxury-based center like Royal Hawaiian, it’s actually January when retailers will do as much as 10 percent of their entire year’s sales as shopping there is driven more by Shogatsu, the Japanese celebration of New Years.

At Pearlridge Center, general manager David Cianelli says it’s become difficult to measure one Black Friday against another as stores have turned what used to be a one-day sale into a month-long promotion. Overall, he said early numbers suggest the center will have been up 4 percent over 2017’s holiday season. But for this shopping center, the pattern of revenue has spread out more evenly throughout the year.

That’s because malls nationwide, Pearlridge included, have been moving away from retail as consumers have moved more of their shopping online. More of Pearlridge’s tenants are restaurants or entertainment venues or even suppliers of such everyday needs as medical services. Cianelli says we can expect to see more of this as shopping centers evolve to become community gathering places, something no online experience can duplicate.