Onslaught of online orders not quite over

KILAUEA — Even though Christmas is over, some Kauai businesses are still in the middle of one of the largest online order flurries ever.

Stores island-wide reported seeing an uptick in online sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, which reflects nationwide reports that say online shopping is up 20 percent from this time last year.

“We actually had to shut our website down at one point because we had too many orders,” said Christine Baley Wortley, owner of Kauai Nut Roasters. “We’re still going pretty strong here. I would say (online sales) probably doubled from last year.”

Baley Wortley said she shut down her website for about a week during the holidays, but that didn’t make much of a difference — people just started calling the shop to place orders instead.

“We had to tell people that we couldn’t guarantee that it would get there before Christmas anymore, because we were too busy,” Baley Wortley said.

Many of Kauai Nut Roaster’s customers don’t live on the island, Baley Wortley said, so ordering online is key.

“We have a good local following too, but many of those people want (our products) shipped, so they order (online) and we take care of all that for them,” Baley Wortley said.

Laura Cristobal Andersland, owner of Salty Wahine in Hanapepe, said she estimates her online sales went up 25 percent this year. She was prepared with two extra full-time employees for the season.

“We had packages upon packages, cart-fulls of packages going to the post office every day,” Cristobal Andersland said. “They didn’t even have room on the floor, there were so many packages. We drove the post office crazy.”

Sheri Boulay, manager of Banana Patch Inc., said she estimates the company’s online sales spiked 25 percent as well.

“Our Aloha Spices went crazy and we sold a lot of hand-painted pottery pieces at Banana Patch,” Boulay said. “People love collecting the series of those and the spices are great for stocking stuffers.”

The company also sells its products through Amazon, and Boulay noticed a jump in those sales as well.

The online retailer definitely had a spike in sales this year.

Amazon gained 3 million new members in its Amazon Prime program in the third week of December alone, according to a Monday news release. The number of Prime members shopping via a mobile device more than doubled over the holiday season.

The company also said it shipped a record number of items worldwide for the holidays.

According to the MasterCard SpendingPulse report, which tracks retail sales from Black Friday to Christmas Eve, overall spending nationwide rose 8 percent from what it was last year, and a big portion of that was online sales.

That jump in Internet spending means more people are shopping from the comfort of their armchair, or on the go with mobile apps.

Lilinoe Wilson, 13, from Lihue said she estimates about 10 percent of her Christmas shopping was done online.

She said that she tried to shop local as much as she could, but there were a few items on her list that she had to order via the Internet.

“There’s a lot of girls in my family, so a lot of my online shopping was Victoria’s Secret stuff,” Wilson said.

Boulay said she suspects the convenience of online shopping makes it popular as well.

“People don’t want to be bothered to go into stores and do the physical shopping,” Boulay said.

Next year, business owners said they’ll plan ahead a little further, by securing extra help and sending out promotions to prepare for the holiday season.

“Maybe we’ll be offering some specials in November for people who want to get their orders in early,” said Baley Wortley, “and we might have to hire extra staff next year.”


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