Fact Sheet - Big Box Retailing - Report No. 4, 2003



This study responds to S.C.R. No. 6, H.D. 1, 2003, which asked the Bureau to coordinate certain executive agencies in examining the effects of "big box" retailers on local small and medium retail businesses in Hawaii.

The resolution asked the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) to perform the core of the data generation and analysis. However, the DBEDT declined, offering a feasibility analysis of the requested research and analytic tasks showing how it lacked the resources to carry out the tasks. Absent the core data and analysis, the Bureau collected consolidated employment and tax data for certain "big boxes" in Hawaii for 2000 to 2002 as follows.

Annual Average Employment by "Big Boxes" in Hawaii for 2001 & 2002


Annual Average Employment





Tax Data for "Big Boxes" in Hawaii for 2000 & 2001




General Excise Taxable Income

Not available


General Excise Tax

Not available

$ 60,769,824

Hawaii gross business receipts



Hawaii wages paid

$ 107,322,496

$ 139,256,700

Hawaii corporate income tax

$ 2,844,006

$ 3,359,639

Property Taxes for "Big Boxes" in Hawaii for 2000-2002





City & County of Honolulu




Hawaii County

$ 569,375.98

$ 574,236.23

$ 673,160.37

The study identifies and discusses several problematic issues stemming from the resolution's requests:

(1) The DBEDT agrees that there are inherent difficulties in accurately identifying small and medium local retailers in Hawaii that compete with "big boxes" in any kind of merchandise;

(2) The DBEDT also agrees that it is hardly possible to accurately determine whether "big box" competition caused smaller retailers to close;

(3) Although "big boxes" may indeed command cheaper shipping rates, the problematic issue lies in the tendency to see this competitive advantage as an unfair one. Concomitantly, the public policy issue of government's proper role arises. The DBEDT further agrees that government should ensure a level playing field on which all competitors have an equal chance to gain a competitive advantage. Its role is not to automatically protect local business from competition; and

(4) The DBEDT agrees that its input-output model is unable to analyze the "comparative economic impact" of "big boxes" in Hawaii at this time.

This study also reviewed several relevant publications, including:

(1) A recent DBEDT article on retailing in Hawaii;

(2) A Maryland study reporting on the experiences of other jurisdictions with "big boxes" and potential regulatory strategies; and

(3) A study estimating the effects of the potential entry of Wal-Mart supercenters into southern California.