Christmas may be over, but shopping isn't
|Video: After-Christmas shopping|
By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer
By Eloise Aguiar
KANE'OHE — Christmas may be over, but the holiday shopping continued full strength yesterday, with malls reporting heavy crowds, full parking lots and long lines.
The day brought out shoppers hunting for bargains, exchanging presents and redeeming gift cards, all hoping to take advantage of that retail tradition — holiday markdowns.
Windward Mall in Kane'ohe was packed. At Pearlridge Center, the parking lot was near capacity at 11 a.m. and by noon, cars lined up bumper to bumper were circling for that coveted parking space. Officials at Ala Moana Center expected a slew of people redeeming gift cards, the sales of which reached record levels this holiday season.
Mall managers said they expected the last-minute rush to contribute to their final holiday sales numbers, a nice boost before the end of the year.
ANNUAL FAMILY RITUAL
Nelson Omandam of 'Ewa Beach braved the after-Christmas sales at Pearlridge with his wife and three children, including a 20-month-old boy. Omandam said he and his wife wanted to catch the specials and a 40-percent-off sale on ornaments.
"It's our ritual to shop the day after Christmas," Omandam said as he watched his two boys while his wife took advantage of a department store discount coupon that expired at noon. "We did all the sales that came out, and after Christmas is one of the biggest sales."
Store windows at the 'Aiea mall featured 10-, 25-, 40- and 50-percent off signs yesterday.
Omandam wasn't only shopping for bargains, he was returning about a dozen clothing items and a bag of toys, which were duplicates or things his children already owned.
Lela Ambrocio, of Wai'anae, also regularly shops the day after Christmas because of the sales.
"I take off from work because there's a lot more sales going on, even better than when it's Christmas time," Ambrocio said.
Fred Paine, general manager at Pearlridge, said the after-Christmas activity is becoming almost a second shopping season, with thousands of people hitting the mall.
The crowds yesterday weren't at their pre-Christmas peak, but the parking lot was near capacity and merchants hoped that they could match last year's sales, which was the best in the mall's history, Paine said.
"I was here on Saturday and spoke with several merchants who are very pleased that they saw their sales approaching last year's levels," he said. "They said if they could equal 2005 sales, they would be very happy."
The figures for this year haven't been calculated, but Pearlridge is looking at a 6 percent increase in sales, Paine said.
Jonathan Kim, general manager at the Windward Mall, said the center was packed yesterday. People were taking advantage of the sales, exchanging gifts and using the gift cards they received for Christmas, Kim said.
TURNING OUT EARLY
Windward Mall has been under renovation this year, but that didn't seem to interfere with shoppers, some of whom arrived at 7 a.m., he said.
"I talked to the general manager at Sears, and she said sales are up this year. However, the sales came late," Kim said, adding that new stores seem to make a difference, and the crowd wasn't just exchanging gifts.
"I think people are still shopping and taking advantage of the sales," he said.
Sales brought people to Ala Moana Center at 8 a.m., said Kristin Kilburn, retail services director for the mall.
"Stores had lines at 8 a.m., so they must have been having great sales," Kilburn said. "The food court at noon looked almost more busy than the day after Thanksgiving."
The mall was slightly busier than last year, and the crowds were comparable to the week before Christmas, she said.
The center is expecting to finish the shopping season with strong numbers, partly due to the record number of gift cards sold, said Matt Derby, public relations director for the mall. The end of December and the beginning of January should be good, Derby said.
"It looks like we'll be finishing off the year with a pretty good single-digit increase over the 2005 figure," he said.
Reach Eloise Aguiar at email@example.com.