LIHUE — Thinner crowds meant happy shoppers on Black Friday.
J.R. and Rhoda Acoba of Kaumakani said they were delighted not to be fighting crowds early in the morning on the famous shopping day after Thanksgiving.
And they were all for getting good deals.
“This was not like previous years when it’s been packed with people,” J.R. said outside of Sports Authority in Puhi. “I think it’s because most of the stores started their deals yesterday.”
Even with the sales starting Thursday, Rhoda said they found everything they were looking for on Friday, thanks to all the ads they saw.
Irene Tuzon came in early from Waimea with her daughter Chaslee Delanoza and grandchildren Dalen and Cailey. They tried to make the 5 a.m. for the openings at Kukui Grove Center but came in a little later than planned.
Still, they still found good deals.
“We got what we wanted,” Tuzon said. “We wanted some gloves and jackets and socks and there are good sales at Sports Authority.”
Randall Osakoda drove in from Hanalei to make the Home Depot opening at 5 a.m. in Puhi. It was worth it, he said, for some drill bits and batteries.
“Definitely, I got 50 percent off,” Osakoda said. “I also bought my daughter a wetsuit at Sports Authority and some clothes at Deja Vu.”
Lihue residents Shan Resinto and her sister Cassy Girard said they planned out what where they wanted in the order the stores opened on Thanksgiving Day. They were pleased with the thin crowds and the merchandise was still availalble.
“We knew what we wanted and so we got it planned out, ya, Macy’s, Home Depot and Kmart,” Resinto said. “We were at Home Depot first thing in the morning and got all of our poinsettia plants for 99 cents.”
After leaving Kmart, the two joined the line at the Malasada stand before heading over to Kukui Grove.
Jennifer, Leilani, and Juliana Pasol of Lihue said they shop Black Friday every year and found this year’s to be pretty easy going. They thought the smaller crowds might have been from people being tired from late night shopping Thursday.
“We went to Home Depot first thing and we got everything we wanted,” Jennifer said. “The crowds were OK and everything was still on the shelves.”
Then it was over to Kukui Grove, where they shopped for deals at Macy’s and the rest of the mall.
Jessica Tabalan and her sister drove in from Omao and arrived at Kukui Grove at around 7:30 a.m. They didn’t have a list of particular items to search for but said they were excited enough to come in and check it out.
“We are just going to window shop,” Tabalan said.
With the crowds spread out over two days, the potential for congestion and tension among shoppers was reduced. Kauai County officials said there weren’t any police reports that concerned Black Friday shopping events.
And it wasn’t just here that crowds seemed more relaxed.
The Associated Press reported that Black Friday frenzy wasn’t as intense nationally as in past years. It also reported that shoppers swarmed stores the night before on Thanksgiving. Forecasts still predict another annual increase in spending.
Last year, sales on Black Friday slumped 13.2 percent to $9.74 billion, according to ShopperTrak, which tracks data at more than 70,000 stores globally. Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak, said it is unclear how stores will fare this year.
Retailers have turned to Thanksgiving openings to stay competitive and avoid losing sales that have shifted earlier into the holiday, said Ramesh Swarmy, a retail partner at the Deloitte consulting firm.
The holiday weekend still sets the tone for the shopping season, whose sales this year are expected to rise 4.1 percent to $611.9 billion, according to the AP. That would be the biggest increase since 2011. Black Friday has been the biggest shopping day of the year since 2005.
Others got a big jump on the sales.
Janice Yo anticipated a long line and got to Macy’s two hours before the 6 p.m. opening on Thursday. She said it was a good move.
“We were first in line,” Yo said. “I came here because they have stuff that I want. We’re going to Walmart after this.”
Others joined her at Walmart Thanksgiving night.
Kai Boy Kawahalau and Sydnee Ferrara said the 3 and a half hour wait in line was worth it. They emerged from the store with freezers and two 50-inch televisions.
“The only thing we didn’t get was the items which were in the container that didn’t get here,” Kawahalau said.
Carleen Amulacion of Kekaha said the two-hour wait in line for specials was nothing compared to much longer lines she experienced in Las Vegas. Not a fan of turkey or Thanksgiving, she said she was happy to spend Thursday shopping.
“No can go wrong,” Amulacion said. “We just make the best of it. I’ll be back again tomorrow.”
Cheyanne and David Mahuka of Hanamaulu said they bought plenty of Christmas presents. They bought items they didn’t even plan on from the ads.
“We got stuff!” they said.
One motorist passing through the Walmart parking lot added, “My daughter got a 50-inch television for her room. It’s bigger than ours. What’s with that?”