Experts say customers cautiously spending money as retail stores open


Shopping malls and other retailers opened Friday after weeks of staying closed. Tina Yamaki of Retail Merchants of Hawaii tells us she heard some businesses made some sales while others not so much. With unemployment at an all-time high, she also says there are customers who are cautiously spending their money.

“People are list shopping now. What that means is they are going into stores with a list of items that they need and only purchase those items on the list because they have a limited amount of funds right now,” said Yamaki.

Yamaki tells us there are also more people window shopping because they just wanted to get out of the house. But T&C Surf says they did surprisingly well this past weekend. The company decided to re-open all 6 locations.

“They were buying a lot of stuff for the beach, treating themselves and their keiki,” said Operations Manager Charlene Calistro. “Conservatively, Haleiwa, which is our most tourist-driven, we did pretty well. We just were hoping to see more people but obviously the tourists are not here.”

Calistro says they’re looking forward to Memorial Day which is a typical shopping weekend. But also hopes other neighboring retailers open soon including the bigger stores.

“It puts a damper when it’s just us or just a few of us, and it’s kind of hard to bounce off each other and share the same type of customer,” she said.

Macy’s posted a sign saying it will re-open on Friday, May 22nd. But opening doors to customers is not that easy. Yamaki says some retailers have to weigh-in if they can afford to reopen. A backlog of rent, operational expenses, and the added cost of buying sanitizers and protective gear needs to be considered. Then there are those who are still prepping their stores to follow COVID-19 guidelines.

“We want to be sure that it’s not only safe for our employees but our customers to feel safe and secure in there too because that is the only way they are going to come back and shop,” said Yamaki.

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