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Retailers plan all-nighters as Christmas nears

Others might follow the lead of Macy's and Toys R Us in the future, analysts say

By Kristen Consillio

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 03:53 a.m. HST, Dec 19, 2012

Cindy ellen Russell / crussell@staradvertiser.com@Caption1:Toys R Us and Macy's will be open 24 hours a day beginning Friday for last-minute Christmas shoppers. Customers stood Tuesday in the checkout line at Toys R Us in Pearlridge.

It's a procrastinator's dream.

Macy's and Toys R Us plan to keep some of their Hawaii stores open around the clock for the last weekend of Christmas shopping.

The marathon retail hours are another sign of the steep competition from online retailers that has nudged brick-and-mortar holiday shopping to new extremes.

While the retail all-nighters may come as a surprise this year, in the future they could be the norm.

Macy's will keep most of its 800 stores nationwide, including eight in Hawaii, open from 7 a.m. Friday until midnight Sunday. Toys R Us plans to welcome shoppers at its large stores, including its Pearlridge location, for 88 consecutive hours, starting at 6 a.m. Friday through 10 p.m. Christmas Eve.

The round-the-clock shopping frenzy is expected to generate additional revenue from last-minute shoppers forced to meet the Christmas deadline.

"A last-minute shopper will buy anything," said MaryAnn Bekkedahl, a retail specialist. "It's ‘OMG, I have to buy something right now.'"

Pearlridge Center General Manager Fred Paine said he suspects the trend may gain momentum next year and is indicative of the times.

SHOPPING HOURS
Macy’s stores open from 7 a.m. Friday until midnight (11:59 p.m.) Sunday:

>> Ala Moana Center
>> Pearlridge Center
>> Kahala Mall
>> Windward Mall
>> Queen Kaahumanu Center, Kahului
>> Prince Kuhio Plaza, Hilo
>> Kukui Grove Shopping Center, Lihue
>> Makalapua Center, Kona

Source: Macy’s

"If Black Friday was any kind of an indicator, if they continue to do this in the next few years, I'm sure it will catch on with other retailers," Paine said. "(People) work, they have busy schedules, they don't want to fight the crowds. It might be a great benefit to have 24/7 access to a large department store. Everything is high-speed and high-tech and, you know, going faster and faster and becoming more and more convenient."

For instance, when Macy's opened at midnight on Black Friday last year, there were only a handful of merchants that followed suit, unlocking their doors before the mall's official opening at 6 a.m.

"This year the word got out about the volume of business they did in those hours, and probably four times as many merchants opened prior to 6 a.m. and did very well," Paine added. "There's something to that."

Macy's says it is staying open all night on the last weekend before Christmas to help last-minute shoppers.

"Macy's extended store hours are the ultimate in customer service," Deena Nichols, Macy's district vice president for Hawaii and Guam, said in an email. "Our customers have shown they appreciate the ability to shop on their own schedule, so we are providing them the opportunity to finish their holiday shopping at any time of day or night."

Smaller retailers may be forced to jump on the bandwagon, especially since holiday sales can generate as much as 40 percent of a merchant's annual business, according to Retail Merchants of Hawaii.

But staying open all night will not be easy for a small business.

Eden in Love, a tiny boutique in Ward Warehouse, is open for two additional hours every day until Christmas Eve but doesn't have the manpower to open beyond that.

"We're a small boutique. We don't have enough employees and payroll hours to be able to staff up for 24 hours," said owner Tanna Dang. "What we did instead of staying open is we got a little more creative with our promotions for our online store so people can shop at their own leisure."

Internet sales are also pushing round-the-clock competition for brick-and-mortar stores, said Carol Pregill, president of Retail Merchants of Hawaii.

"The competition not only comes from other brick-and-mortar stores, but increasing competition from Internet sales, which is 24 hours, in your pajamas and every single day of the week," Pregill said.

Shoppers who run out of time for Internet purchases because of the time it takes to ship the item to Hawaii may take advantage of the overnight hours.

"There are all of these factors that come into play, but the last-minute push is what it is. That's when everybody has to find something," Pregill said. "If history repeats itself, it's very likely (this will be a trend)."

———

The San Jose Mercury News contributed to this report.






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