Today signals ceremonial start to holiday shopping

The biggest single shopping day of the year at Kukui Grove Center will be Saturday, Dec. 21, not the Friday after Thanksgiving.

The day after turkey day has long since become the day when holiday shopping ceremoniously begins, not the largest single day of retail spending in the calendar year, as it once was believed to be.

Santa will arrive at Kukui Grove and several other locations today, but changes in shopper lifestyles and retail behavior have pushed the busiest shopping day of the year to a date much closer to Christmas, said Wade Lord, general manager of both Kukui Grove Center in Lihu’e and Kauai Village in Waipouli.

His view is supported by data from the International Council of Shopping Centers, which puts the busiest shopping day of the year for the past decade at least as the Saturday immediately before Christmas.

“A lot of that has to do with how retailers behave,” said Lord. Clearances, discounts and sales now occur in mid-December, where they used to happen immediately after Christmas.

Shoppers know sales are coming just prior to Christmas, and are willing to wait until the last minute in search of values even while risking store-shelf shortages of gifts associated with late-holiday shopping, he said.

Consumer habits have changed as a result of busier lives, so more shoppers wait until the last minute before finishing holiday shopping, said Lord.

Retailers noticed and adapted to those consumer shifts, he added. Lord is a retail-industry veteran, but still finds himself year after year among the crowds shopping late in the holiday buying season, he admitted.

But, he quickly pointed out that he has already secured a present for his wife.

Kauai Village is a bit of a different animal from the regional mall that is Kukui Grove, he explained. Sales at the Waipouli mall are influenced more by current visitor numbers, he said.

“Christmas at Kauai Village runs through January,” with the peak holiday visitor-arrival season. “It starts later and runs longer,” he said.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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