HONOLULU(KHON2) — Black Friday kicked off the 2021 holiday shopping season with bustling shopping centers and a feeling of optimism among local shoppers and retailers.

It has been a good day for retailers on Friday, Nov. 26.

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Manaola store manager, Kauhi Tehiva, said they have had a great day with a steady stream of customers lined up outside the shop since they opened their Pearlridge Center location at 6 a.m.

Sreela Johnson, manager of 33 Butterflies at Kahala Mall, said they have been busy almost all day.

“Looking out and seeing people come in and out, its really encouraging,” Johnson said.

Retail Merchants of Hawaii President Tina Yamaki said it has been a lot livelier this year, 2021, compared to 2020.

“We’re seeing so many more shoppers coming into the malls and into the stores. And we’re hoping that they’re starting to buy a lot more for Christmas this year and the holiday season. So, it is exciting.”

Retail Merchants of Hawaii President Tina Yamaki

From Pearlridge Center to Kahala Mall, many shoppers took advantage of special deals while some were just happy to be out.

Sandra Lehano, a Mililani resident, said they stopped by Pearlridge Center to bring her grandkids to ride the train since it was closed in 2020.

“Walking around, get out of the house bring the kids,” Lehano added. “And the sales.”

“The new norm has been so different,” Yamaki explained. “And I think people are just wanting to get out of the house and wanting to get back to a normal life.”

Some things have changed in 2020 as most malls — and stores like Target — remained closed on Thanksgiving day.

“Pre-pandemic, you could shop on Thanksgiving, or they’d open at 12 midnight or you had doorbuster sales at four or five in the morning,” Yamaki stated. “We’re not seeing that so much this year. Most of the malls and most of the stores opened at six this morning.”

Some retail shops, like Santa’s Pen, had to make some last-minute adjustments due to shipping delays. Store owner Karen Sotomura said that, thankfully, it only impacted some of their products.

“There were products from the mainland we had to cancel because they weren’t gonna arrive until late December and that’s way too late for us to receive it. So, that impacted us as far as the outside designs that we carry,” Sotomura explained.

Many hope the Black Friday crowds are a sign of good things to come.

“I’ve seen fellow small businesses that have not been able to maintain their business because of COVID,” added Sotomura. “It was a tough ride for everyone, but we were able to make it through. So, we see a lot of hope in 2022.”

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Tehiva said they are grateful they are still around too at Manaola.

“It’s a slow climb, but we’re getting there and we’re very thankful for that,” Tehiva added.