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Hawaiʻi retailers feeling optimistic after strong local turnout during the holidays

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Nationwide, retailers had a tough December with sales down 1.1% from the previous year.

However, Hawaiʻi retail industry leaders that Pacific Business News assembled for a roundtable said they feel the Hawaiian Islands did a bit better than that.

President and CEO of Hawaiian Host Ed Schultz said that the company had a strong holiday season locally, while its mainland sales definitely slowed.

Kama‘aina are used to seeing Hawaiian Host's chocolate-covered macadamias in stores from ABC to Long's, but over the past year, the wholesale company has launched a few brick-and-mortar stores of its own.

Specifically, the company experimented with a one-year lease at Ala Moana Center for their fresh line of KOHO upscale chocolates.

Their success has allowed them to now open a Waikīkī location, also on a one-year lease.

JLL retail broker Kimo Greenwell and International Market Place general manager Desiree Mosiman both said such short-term leases have become more common as landlords and shopping centers experiment with their tenant mix.

Another retailer who had a strong Christmas was Cora Spearman-Chang, who owns a luxury alohawear brand for both adults and keiki. Spearman-Chang operates as a wholesaler, selling her clothes online and through resort shops.

She is currently gearing up for the March debut of her new line for Bloomingdale's nationwide, a first for a made-in-Hawaiʻi brand.

A. Kam Napier is the editor-in-chief of Pacific Business News.
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