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Two-Minute Tour: Honolulu

The city is Hawaii’s largest and features a range of retail offerings

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The Numbers
With its tropical views, comfortable climate and casual way of life, it’s no wonder millions of people across the world call Honolulu “home for now.” On the island of O’ahu, Honolulu is the capital and the largest city in Hawaii, with a metro population of 953,207. Having the largest airport in the Hawaiian Islands makes Honolulu a natural port to the state’s tourism industry – an industry which, in 2017, brought in $16.78 billion in spending from more than nine million total visitors, supporting over 200,000 jobs to Hawaii’s local economy, according to a press release from the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

The Pulse
In 2017, The Economist named Honolulu the most livable city in the U.S. in its annual Global Livability Index, which scores cities across five broad categories: stability, healthcare, culture/environment, education and infrastructure. Real estate costs remain consistent, with a one percent year-over-year increase in Honolulu’s median sales price, and a zero percent increase in the median rent per month, according to Trulia.com. 

The Hot Spots
Honolulu is home to the Ala Moana Center, the world's largest open-air shopping center – boasting more than 350 retailers, including four department stores, first-class boutiques and more than 100 restaurants.

The International Market Place in Waikiki is home to 90 stores and 10 restaurants, including a three-level, 80,000-square-foot Saks Fifth Avenue, the department store’s only full-line location in Hawaii.

It’s a place that honors its history, with the USS Arizona Memorial marking the resting place of 1102 of the 1177 sailors and Marines killed during the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and visited by more than two million people annually.

Obstacles and Opportunities
Retailers have historically steered clear of the Hawaiian Islands due to high property costs and expensive shipping. However, over the last decade, with a booming local economy and low unemployment, that has shifted.

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In an interview with Hawaii Business Magazine, Kahana Kalama, Founder of the men’s clothing brand Aloha Beach Club (San Diego), says about 75 percent of his sales comes from brick-and-mortar stores, and that his much smaller location in Honolulu often outsells the San Diego store. “The culture of the brand, the culture of the store, is something that you can just feel. That’s something that’s really hard to translate online,” he says. 

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