On Black Friday this year, things looked almost normal.
“We started this morning from 6:30 am,” said Liezen Sambrano, who was having a mid-morning snack with her husband Bryan and daughters Cassey and Kala at the Kukui Grove Center. “So far we’ve been to Macy’s, Walmart, and Target.”
Malls and stores have reported decent-sized crowds, if not floods of people arguing over the latest toys and electronics – online shopping is far too common for that now, and the discounts are both more moderate. and spread over the weeks leading up to Christmas, on both websites and in stores.
“Shopping is fun again! Said Melissa McFerrin-Warrack of KGC. “We had a lot of action starting at 8 am this morning.”
Out-of-stock items due to supply shortages, higher gas and food prices, and labor shortages that make it harder to respond to customers are the source of frustration for buyers.
“We only get items on sale,” said Bryan Sambrano. “There are some great deals and a lot of things are for sale. You can’t beat him.
The nation’s largest mall, the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, said nearly 100,000 people had turned up early Friday afternoon, more than double the number of last year but a little below expectations. 2019 figures.
“We’ve had a fantastic start,” said Jill Renslow, senior vice president of Mall of America.
However, staffing issues that plagued many retailers and restaurants also affected the mall. He had to reduce the opening hours.
These shorter hours have also hit Kaua’i, as the island’s largest mall opens from 9:30 a.m. and closes at 7:00 p.m. until December 20, when it switches to holiday opening hours of 9:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. until December 20. 23.
Overall holiday sales are expected to increase this year. The National Retail Federation forecasts an 8.5% to 10.5% increase in sales for all of November and December, after growing 8% during those months in 2020.
While Black Friday has a strong hold in Americans’ imaginations as a crazy shopping day, it has lost its stature over the past decade as stores opened on Thanksgiving Day and shopping spun. moved to Amazon and other online retailers. Stores diluted the importance of the day even further by advertising Black Friday sales for more and more days.
The pandemic has led many retailers to close stores on Thanksgiving Day and offer discounts on their websites, starting in October. This continues this year, although there are also offers in stores.
“We had some surprises for our first buyers in the Black Friday tent,” said Sara Miura of Deja Vu Surf Hawai’i at KGC. “But because of COVID-19, we had to change the layout. Shoppers can now choose from within the tent, but checkout is done inside the store. We are careful not to have too many people.
Big box retailers like Walmart, however, don’t explode “doorbuster” offerings in their ads, said Julie Ramhold, analyst at DealNews.com. And clothing chains like Victoria’s Secret and Gap are struggling to deal with supply issues. Victoria’s Secret recently said 45% of its holiday merchandise is still stranded in transit.
“The best deal was at Claire’s,” said Liezen Sambrano. “You have three and three are free. You can’t beat him.
Bryan Sambrano said the family are still on track to visit Target, The Home Depot and Ace Housemart before ending the day.
“Tools,” he said. “They have great deals on tools.”
Supply chain bottlenecks are a major concern this year, and stores and shoppers are trying to find workarounds. Some of America’s largest retailers are redirecting cargo to less congested ports, even chartering their own ships.
Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette said the company was ready. “We are in depth and we are ready,” he said, noting that inventory levels were up 20% from last year. ” We are in shape. But many retail spaces looked different than in years past, when large stacks of merchandise were on display. At Macy’s in Manhattan, no more shoes stacked so high that shoppers couldn’t reach them.
Kukui Grove customer Eric Rita said his son Corey and the twins were heading to Macy’s because Macy’s had toys, which was not available in previous years.
The fear of not being able to get the items they wanted helped bring people back to physical stores.
“I was waiting to leave and this lady asked me how long I was waiting,” said Charlmaine Bulosan. “Fifteen minutes. It was long enough to wait to pay.
An employee of Hawaiian Building Maintenance, the contractor for KGC’s maintenance, said there were many people stopping to rest and have snacks in the food court.
“It’s so nice to see the crowd again,” said the food court sanitizer worker. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had good crowds like this.
Retail workers are worried about their safety due to frustrated shoppers and staff shortages, said Stuart Applebaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Stores Union, who said stores should provide security and training on how to handle angry shoppers.
Santa and his’ ohana, dressed appropriately for the pandemic, also made an early appearance at KGC as Kaua’i’s annual Christmas parade was canceled for the second time due to COVID-19. Its first appearance gave people plenty of time to book photos in a COVID-19 environment.
Additionally, McFerrin-Warrack said the Holiday Lights Show will premiere tonight with dancers from Aloha Dance Studio when the mall’s opening hours end at 7 p.m. The light show will be offered on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings until December 16. After this date, the Holiday Light Show will be offered every night until December 23.
Online shopping remains huge and sales are expected to rise 7% for the week after the massive 46% gain a year ago, when many shoppers stayed home, according to Mastercard. For the entire holiday season, online sales are expected to increase 10% from a year ago, up from 33% last year, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index.
“What the pandemic has done for retail is it has forced them to be better digital retailers,” said Marshal Cohen of market research firm NPD Group.
“Today is for shopping,” said Annette Hashimoto, who was shopping with her two daughters and grandchildren. “Tomorrow we will be selling on Small Business Saturday with approximately 20 Kaua’i Made sellers.”
This means the day after Thanksgiving isn’t what it used to be.
Deja Vu Surf Hawai’i will also switch from Black Friday to Small Business Saturday when the tent with surprises for first-time buyers and specials featuring Hydro Flask starts from 10 a.m.
Dennis fujimoto, editor and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or [email protected] The Associated Press contributed to this story.