HILO, Hawaii (KHON2) — Liquidation sales began on Thursday, Feb. 4, at the Sears inside Prince Kuhio Plaza on the Big Island. The closure will leave the mall with a large vacant space to fill.
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The closure of Sears will leave a 74,070-square-foot space vacant, according the plaza’s general manager, but a specific date for the parting has not been released.
Hawaii Commercial Real Estate President James Brown said, the pandemic adds another of difficulty for commercial realtors as they are left to fill all that empty space during a critical time.
“In general it’s going to be tougher because of the uncertainty associated COVID,” Brown said. “However, if the landlords decide that they’re going to roll back rents in order to get a new tenant, I mean, I’m sure there’s some smart tenants out there that are waiting for bargains.”
Brown said, commercial spaces in Hawaii are at an advantage. Big box retailers do not typically take up as much space when compared to locations on the mainland. This means there is less space that sits empty if a big business does shut down.
Brown said, “When retail spaces come up, they do get soaked up, although this might be different with COVID. We’ve has almost a year we’ve been trained to shop from home.”
More retailers are making the shift to online sales along with offering curbside pick-up.
Retail Merchants of Hawaii President Tina Yamaki said, restrictions associated with the pandemic are also affecting online sales.
Yamaki said, “It’s not just the sales that are down for a lot of these stores, but also, you know, they have a 50% capacity, so you can’t have all your customers in there anymore.”
She said, it is not the end for brick and mortar stores despite the challenges physical businesses have faced during the pandemic.
Yamaki said, “The big giant Amazon, which was mostly online. Now, they also have brick and mortar stores, so it’s not totally dead.”
Sears Holdings Corporation did not confirm if other locations in the state will also close.
A Pearlridge Center public relations associate said the Sears continues to serve customers and shared the following statement:
“While still in the early planning stages, we are working closely with all stakeholders to explore redevelopment opportunities for this well-positioned space, which will benefit existing tenants, generate strong future leasing demand, and solidify Pearlridge Center as Hawaii’s gathering place. We look forward to bringing new offerings to Pearlridge Center. Additional details on these developing plans will be shared in the future.”