Retailers struggle as sales fall way below expectations


Retailers continue to struggle as they try to lure customers back. A spokeswoman says the new normal is hurting their bottom line.

Tina Yamaki, the president of Retail Merchants of Hawaii, says part of the challenge is complying with social distancing rules, which limits their capacity. There’s also the cost of additional cleaning supplies and protective equipment, which she says are more expensive than ever.

“It’s hard to get if you find a good price on the masks. It’s not just getting them one time but getting a steady supply because we know this mask rule is probably gonna be around for a while,” she said.

It’s been roughly a couple of weeks since the different counties allowed retailers to reopen their doors. Yamaki says daily sales so far have fallen way below expectations.

“What we’re seeing from these retailers is that they’re actually making 0 to 15 percent of the amount of sales that they would have done last year. So they’re down about 85 percent in sales. They’re kind of questioning, should we stay open or maybe we should close our doors again?” Yamaki said.

She says many retailers also have not been able to bring back all their workers due to shortened hours. So that doesn’t help with the unemployment numbers. She’s asking customers to buy local as much as possible.

“That’s the only way we can get more people off of unemployment and back to working again. A lot of us are buying online and either picking it up at the store or we’re just strictly ordering online through all these mainland companies that have no ties to Hawaii and so the money does not support our local people,” said Yamaki.

She adds that there are now more local retailers that also allow you to shop online.

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