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Thursday, October 23, 2014         

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Cyber Monday boosts some Hawaii retailers

Some businesses find increased online sales after promoting via e-mail and websites

By Kristen Consillio

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After a brisk Black Friday weekend, some Hawaii retailers were waiting to cash in on an anticipated boost in online sales on the hype of Cyber Monday -- the day online retailers typically offer deep discounts in hopes of continuing the holiday shopping momentum.

Local retailers, aggressively trying to woo customers to their websites, expect online sales to match the strong start to the holiday season over the weekend, when 212 million shoppers flocked to stores and websites, up from 195 million a year ago, according to the National Retail Federation.

Consumers spent more than they did last year, with the average shopper spending $365, up from $343, an NRF survey shows. Total spending was estimated at $45 billion over the weekend.

Online sales at Maui Divers Jewelry, which has 55 stores, were up about 40 percent over the previous year this weekend, and Cyber Monday sales were up about 10 percent early yesterday afternoon, said Bob Taylor, president and chief executive officer of Maui Divers, which offered as much as half off the regular price and free shipping yesterday.

"It's a good day," he said. "As we get closer to Christmas, we'll have even larger days."

While sales are up, the average transaction is down about 10 percent over last year, Taylor said.

"People are definitely looking for lower price points from a year ago in the jewelry business," he added.

Nearly 90 percent of retailers offered Cyber Monday deals yesterday, which could drive sales to more than $1 billion, according to one estimate. Online shoppers spent $648 million on Black Friday, up 9 percent from a year ago, and $407 million -- 28 percent more than last year -- on Thanksgiving, according to comScore, which measures online retail sales.

Hilo Hattie expects it will "easily double business on Cyber Monday," according to Mark Storfer, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Pomare Ltd., parent company of Hilo Hattie, which will continue Cyber Monday offers for the next two weeks.

The Hawaiian gift store more than doubled online sales this weekend compared with the previous year, while brick-and-mortar stores were up 40 percent over last year on Black Friday -- the best in five years, he said.

"It was huge. We had an incredible day," Storfer said. "The common reasons for both brick-and-mortar and online (increases) is we see the economy improving, and we see customers more confident about the future."

Customers are spending more on themselves this year than on family and friends, he said.

Retailers nationwide have gotten aggressive in marketing the so-called Cyber Monday following Black Friday, with many promoting sales through Facebook, Twitter and on websites.

Hilo Hattie sent a targeted e-mail invitation to a quarter of a million customers offering free shipping anywhere in the United States with a $100 purchase, beginning yesterday through Dec. 15.

"I woke up to 20 e-mails from all these different online vendors," said Donnie Ford, a Hawaii Kai resident who shops online throughout the year but did not have time to shop yesterday.

While Cyber Monday is not as big as Black Friday in terms of traffic and sales for Best Buy, "it's a lot bigger than it has been in previous years," said Shawn Troup, Iwilei store manager.

"A lot of people are getting more tech savvy; they're getting their needs online," he said. "A lot of people are able to get things that might be out of stock or not available from (Black Friday); now they're able to get them online."

Best Buy has hired more staff to handle the expected increase in online ordering, which is up from last year, Troup said.

"Online is getting bigger and bigger and bigger," he said.

"It was better than expected and going to continue to grow. For some people it's more convenient. Time-starved people that don't have a lot of time to drive to places are doing more and more research online."

Macy's also anticipates a rise in traffic and sales compared with last year, according to John Gorham, senior vice president and regional director of stores for the southwestern region.






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