And then there was one. Citing (can you guess what’s coming?) rising costs, Kauai sugar company Gay & Robinson announced it’s ceasing operations after more than a century in business. The company plans to lease its land to Pacific West Energy LLC, which will use the sugar for ethanol production. Once the deal is done, it’ll leave Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. (a subsidiary of Alexander & Baldwin) as the only edible sugar-producing outfit in the state. But they’re not gloating. Quoted in The Maui News, HC&S General Manager Frank Kiger said being the last company standing is “not a comfortable place to be.”
It’s the very definition of temporary relief, but cash-strapped motorists will no doubt take it: gas prices in Hawaii keep inching downward. Earlier this week the statewide per gallon average fell to $4.29, down 15 cents from a month ago. So now let’s throw a wet, regular unleaded-soaked blanket on that sort of good news: Hawaii’s gas is still costlier than that of every state in the union except Alaska, according to AAA figures. And here on Maui the per-gallon cost sits at $4.60 a gallon, meaning the price drop is really being enjoyed by folks on neighbor islands. Now doesn’t that make you want to go for a drive?
Tough times for homeowners continue, even in paradise: foreclosure rates soared some 130 percent statewide in August over the same time last year, as reported in The Pacific Business News. That’s bad, but the bump was inflated by the foreclosure of 100 condominiums in one Kauai complex. By contrast, there were 64 foreclosure filings in August on Maui.
Maui retailers praying for a spike in holiday spending to help offset the summer lull may be in for a Grinchly surprise. PBN reports that New York City-based accounting firm Delolitte is predicting consumer spending between November and January nationwide will grow less than it has since 1991 (hey, that president was named Bush, too!). That could actually benefit consumers by lowering the cost of tiki shot glasses, gaudy floral print shirts and other crap that makes people hope you saved the receipt. MTW