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Tsunami scare leaves businesses unscathed

By Kristen Consillio

LAST UPDATED: 11:35 a.m. HST, Oct 30, 2012

Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

A tsunami warning and statewide coastal evacuation late Saturday did not appear to have a significant financial impact on Hawaii businesses.

The 7.7-magnitude earthquake that struck off British Columbia prompted the tsunami warning and evacuation of low-lying coastal areas throughout the islands.

Despite residents scurrying to gas stations and convenience stores for emergency supplies — and others leaving restaurants and Halloween parties early — businesses say they didn't see substantial economic gains or losses.

"One night for a few hours, that's just not even going to be measurable," said Lawrence "Bill" Boyd, an economist at the Center for Labor Education and Research at the University of Hawaii at West Oahu. "Essentially what people did is they filled up gas in advance of when they normally would fill up, and they cleared out emergency supplies in local stores. The people that had Halloween parties scheduled and the bars and restaurants, they had a one-night loss. The stores selling water, gasoline and emergency supplies had a one-time bump. It was a small wash."

Boyd said the tsunami that hit Hawaii in March 2011, after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, had a much greater impact, albeit mixed.

"Even with the Japan tsunami, there were some measurable losses and some measurable gains," he added. "You'd at least have to have a pier or two destroyed to have a measurable loss."

Aaron Placourakis, president and CEO of Tri-Star Restaurant Group, which owns five restaurants in resort areas across the state — including Sarento's at the top of the Ilikai in Waikiki — said his businesses took a 10 to 15 percent loss across the board due to early closings.

"It happened between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., prime dining time, so most people had to cut their evenings short," he said. "We consider ourselves extremely lucky because we were minimally affected."

Peter Kim, owner of the 24-hour Liliha Bakery and a number of other local eateries, said, "We didn't have any significant (gains or losses) either way. It was like a normal day for us."

Albert Chee, spokes­man for Chevron, added that there was a higher-than-normal volume of traffic at many of its 62 stations statewide.

"We did see an increase of traffic to our stations," he said. "That means going forward we'll probably see less traffic because people filled up already. As time goes on it just all balances out."

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