Got Shops. Who’s Shopping?

Dec 8, 2015

A shopper consulted her phone inside the new Bloomingdale's at Ala Moana Center.
Credit Noe Tanigawa


Some potential shoppers are intimidated by parking at Ala Moana. All entrances are open now, with 4,500 spaces in the new 'Ewa wing parking complex, probably your best bet to find a spot fairly quickly. Enter from Pi'ikoi.
Credit Noe Tanigawa

  Shopping is more than necessity or recreation for Americans, the global economy relies on American consumption and this is the height of the season.  Locally, retail accounts for 25% of Hawai‘i’s workforce and is the largest contributor to the state’s excise tax revenue. HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports Honolulu shoppers have some new options this year in the ‘Ewa wing of Ala Moana Center.

Scott Creel is senior marketing manager at Ala Moana Center where the new Bloomingdale’s opened November 12, along with several other stores in the 'Ewa area that used to house Sears.  The new section simply continues 'Ewa from Banana Republic and Longs, with Bloomingdale’s on the left and the future Nordstrom straight ahead.  It all still looks a little sparse. 

The new section spans three-levels with 650,000 square feet of new retail, including a 167,000 square-foot Bloomingdale’s department store, dining, and entertainment.  Agent Provocateur, David Yurman, Planet Blue, The Art of Shaving, Coach, and Kate Spade are among the retailers set for the new wing.  Spanish clothier, Zara is slated to open later in December and Nordstrom will open in March 2016.  

View of the courtyard in the new 'Ewa wing at Ala Moana Center
Credit Noe Tanigawa

The much anticipated Japan Village Walk will be street level where Sears auto repairs used to be, and is slated to open summer of 2016.  A new Foodland Farms, three times the size of the former Foodland at Ala Moana will also open next summer street level along Pi'ikoi.  The Park Lane condominium on the makai 'Ewa corner of the property is expected to open in late 2016.

According to Mr. Creel, an average 30 thousand people a day patronize Ala Moana center,  43% of them local. He recommends avoiding 11-3pm on weekends, those are peak, and says after work on weekdays is best for locals.   The Pi'ikoi entrance leads straight into the 'Ewa parking complex, you can even go straight to the 4th floor, and Creel recommends this area for parking quickly. He says the depth and breadth of merchandise at ala moana trump online shopping, but they’ve added a parcel delivery option for those who just love getting  stuff at their door. 

Sheri Sakamoto is president of the Retail Merchants of Hawai‘i .   She says the 2015 shopping season has had some surprises, for example, online shopping is up 49%!

Sakamoto believes physical stores with merchandise will always be with us but so will cyber price comparing, and consumers will buy online if it's cheaper.

Sakamoto points to a Yelp Harris poll showing Hawai‘i #2 among the top cities to shop local, which attests to the continuing success of craft fiars, pop ups, and the Night Market.  Sakamoto says small vendors who have been working the circuit seem to have been doing very well this year.  

Longest line seen on a Saturday, outside Nitrogenie, a new kind of ice cream. Is it so great--or just the only thing people can afford?
Credit Noe Tanigawa

Though visitor spending is tracked very closely, the state does not keep track of figures on  local spending. Sakamoto is hoping to change that as she anticipates hundreds of new retail spaces in the next few years—from the International Market place through Kaka‘ako and out in Kapolei, plus mini developments along the transit corridor.  still, for this year, her impression is that retailers are hoping for things to pick up.

Brick and mortar shops do become more critical as shipping time disappears.  If you do have a favorite small vendor, check their website for upcoming pop ups and bargains.   An amazing statistic:  Ala Moana Center, owned by General Growth Properties Inc., averages $1300 dollars income per square foot.  Nationwide and locally, other malls average several hundred at best.

Check for a parking map and the new stores open or coming to Ala Moana Center.