LIHUE — In the midst of a milling Black Friday mob, Perrin Owens and Belinda Stevens chipped out a corner of space in the Walmart electronics section and studied a copy of “Sims 4.”
“It’s about $10 off what I’ve been seeing, it’s $39.82,” Owens said. “They’ve been selling it for $50.”
While young Owens was pouring over the Xbox games, Stevens had her eye on a different gadget — a 65-inch television for $398.
“I bought a Samsung one a few months ago and it’s already broken,” she said. “So it’s time and worth the money.”
She wasn’t worried about missing out on the deal, even though aisles were packed and a healthy crowd was moving in and out of the store. Black Friday shopping on Kauai doesn’t involve the mayhem the holiday is reputed to have on the Mainland.
“Sure, there are quite a few people in here, but it’s not bad,” Stevens said. “I’ll go look at the TV here soon.”
Black Friday Shopping began Thursday evening at Walmart, as it did at several other stores around the island, with online sales beginning Wednesday.
Deals included HP computers like the Pavillion x360 Notebook for $499 and the Stream 11 Notebook for $159, Samsung Galaxy tablets for $129, and Vivitar Aero-View Video Drones for $69.DVD bins lined the aisles with prices as low as $1.96 each for titles like “The Wizard of Oz”, “Goosebumps” and “Steven King’s IT.” Xbox Ones’ prices were knocked down $100 to $399, and the Blackstone 28-inch Griddle Cooking Station was on sale for $118.
The holiday shopping season presents a big test for a U.S. economy, whose overall growth so far this year has relied on a burst of consumer spending. Americans upped their spending during the first half of 2018 at the strongest pace in four years, yet retail sales gains have tapered off recently. The sales totals over the next month will be a good indicator as to whether consumers simply paused to catch their breath or feel less optimistic about the economy in 2019.
The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, is expecting holiday retail sales to increase as much as 4.8 percent over 2017 for a total of $720.89 billion. The sales growth marks a slowdown from last year’s 5.3 percent, but remains healthy.
The retail economy is also tilting steeply toward online shopping. Over the past 12 months, purchases at non-store retailers such as Amazon have jumped 12.1 percent as sales at traditional department stores have slumped 0.3 percent. Adobe Analytics reported Thursday that Thanksgiving reached a record $3.7 billion in online retail sales, up 28 percent from the same year ago period. For Black Friday, online spending was on track to hit more than $6.4 billion, according to Adobe.
On Kauai, sales on appliances and home improvement supplies continued at Home Depot, where power tools were discounted for deals like buy a drill kit and get two select power tools or batteries free with the purchase.
Diablo saw blades were on sale two for the price of one, gloves were discounted half off and appliances were up to 40 percent off.
In the Home Depot parking lot, Randy and Sady Riggan said they got some great deals on home supplies like batteries, Pergo flooring and other odds and ends.
“Good deals for home improvement projects,” Sady Riggan said. “Now he’s gotta go to work.”
Pau Hana T’s celebrated their first Black Friday in Kukui Grove Shopping Center and Jona Yoshimoto and Cierra Pablo were busy helping customers filtering between the shop and the outside deals in front of DejaVu.
“We’re doing great,” Yoshimoto said as she directed Marissa Sandblom and her kids Safina and Sand to some styles in the store.
Sand was stoked on his breakfast as he sat in his stroller, but mom and daughter picked up a few gifts in the store.
“It’s good being out here, supporting local businesses and getting Christmas shopping in,” Marissa Sandblom said.
Across the walkway at DejaVu in Kukui Grove, owner Tad Miura and wife Caroline were talking story with an ongoing line of customers who were checking out $10 T-shirts and 30 percent off all regularly priced items inside the store.
“It’s busy out here,” Tad Miura said. “We’re seeing a lot of people.”
A few stores down, Joni Keamoai was bringing the holiday spirit alive at Ainofea, gift wrapping purchases in the window with brightly colored wrapping paper.
Staff at the clothing store were going all night, with doors opening and deals starting at midnight on Friday and going through the day.
At the DejaVu in Kapaa, the mood was mellower in the morning — though the store was still full of deals and a line stretched several people deep by 7 a.m. Most of those shoppers were passersby out on their morning walks or grabbing coffee.
“It usually gets more people in the afternoon,” Miura said.
MJ Udaundo took advantage of the selection in the morning, though, and snagged a few key clothing pieces before the crowds descended.
“I work just down the street, so I might be back later, but I got some good deals,” Udaundo said. “The outside rack is really good.”
From the doorway of DejaVu in Kapaa, store manager Mary Llego reminded customers that the deals don’t end on Friday.
“We’ll have sales all weekend,” she said.
Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or at email@example.com
The Associated Press contributed to this report.