Local business owner Dustin Stonner said he’s seen his sales ramp up during the holiday spending period.
“In-person, I’m seeing a lot more foot traffic here at the different markets that I do, and my online sales have started to pick up,” said Stonner, owner of Uncle D’s BBQ. “My online sales will typically double during the holiday season.”
According to a recent poll conducted by the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to spend on average $935.58 during the holiday spending period. The number is down slightly from the the $953.58 mark in 2015, but $200 more than in 2009.
Lower priced items, free shipping options, availability of products and a softening economy are among the driving factors attracting holiday spenders, according to business owners and residents who spoke to The Garden Island.
Leslie Ragocos says she saves about a couple hundred dollars shopping online during the holidays.
“I shop online because it’s easier for me,” said the Waimea resident. “I usually buy clothing and electronics. To me, I don’t fight the crowd. I save on gas. I’m thinking about getting seasonal clothing. I shop for my kids.”
Stonner said online purchases makes up about 5 percent to 10 percent of his sales.
“Right now it’s staying the same, but there’s more volume because my retail has also picked up,” he said.
As a consumer, Stonner said he tends to do his holiday shopping on the web.
“I enjoy interacting with people, but when the crowds are crazy I don’t want to deal with that,” he said. “Pre-holiday, I’m more in person. As it gets closer to the holidays, I’m looking for more online.”
When he isn’t shopping online, Stonner supports the island’s businesses.
“I like to go to the markets and shop as local as I can, and go to locally owned stores,” he said. “I try to do that year-round, but especially the holidays.”
Helene Carvalho of Lawai shops both.
“I always do the Black Friday, but I shopped Thanksgiving,” she said. “I did a lot of winter wear, blankets with characters on them.”
She enjoys shopping in person to get a feel of the items she’s purchasing.
“You can actually see what you get versus online,” she said. “Sometimes online you’re taking a chance on what you really think it is.”
Ultimately, the price of the item will attract Carvalho to buy it from the store or web.
“Let’s say I can’t get it here, so I’ll get it online,” she said.
Last Cyber Monday, she said she purchased movies. Free shipping online is another incentive for her.
“It varies, but I like to search,” she said. “I’m looking forward to Cyber Monday. Hopefully I get some good buys.”
Online shipping incentives aren’t enough to sway Stonner from shopping for deals in person.
“Free shipping online isn’t a heavy influence for me because stores do that, too,” he said.
Although experts are projecting big sales on Monday, local retailers are seeing more people shopping on island.
“It seems like we’re busier this year,” said Leslie White, an employee at Aloha Spice Company in Hanapepe. “A lot more people are coming around and out and about.”
Parker Price, Tropical Tantrum vice president, said his company had a presence on the web for two decades, but only added a shopping cart in the last 10.
“Whether you’re online or you sell (in-person), you gotta distinguish yourself from what everyone else are doing,” Price said. “The foundation of what makes you different is making something that can’t be easily duplicated. That’s how we look at it.”
A strong presence online is especially crucial for local businesses to stay afloat, Price said.
“People go online and to social media and they check you out,” he said. “I think everybody benefits from that in the long run.”
For Tropical Tantrum, Price estimates the website’s online sales comprises about 15-20 percent of the overall business.
“Having an online story is equal to having another store,” Price said. “I wish it was 50 percent or even 75 percent.”