Will shoppers go to the mall because Simon says it’s okay?
Simon Property Group is preparing to reopen its malls to customers in 10 states. An internal memo sent to retailers and leaked to media outlets outlines the mall operator’s plan to reopen 49 facilities between May 1 and May 4.
Business hours at the malls located in Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas will not immediately return to their pre-pandemic norms. The shopping centers will be open between 11:00 and 7:00 Monday through Saturday and 12:00 to 6:00 on Sunday, allowing cleaning crews more time to sanitize door handles and other surfaces throughout.
Each mall will offer free infrared temperature testing for customers and CDC-approved face masks and packets of hand sanitizer for shoppers to wear. The mall operator is taking steps, including limiting the seating in food courts and keeping play areas closed, to try and maintain proper social distancing. Simon employees are required to wear masks (customers are encouraged to do so) and to take frequent breaks to wash their hands.
It is not known how many retail tenants plan to follow Simon’s lead and reopen stores. Many retailers, particularly department stores and specialty clothing chains, have been hit hard by store closures, and some have withheld rent payments in an effort to maintain liquidity. Even those reluctant to reopen in states where the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to climb may feel they have no choice if they wish to remain viable as a business.
The other question that remains is whether shoppers will return to mall properties in a significant way. Shopper traffic at malls, in general, was falling well before more than a million Americans were infected with the novel coronavirus. Will they be just as willing to go now?
- The biggest US mall owner prepares to reopen 49 properties. Here’s how that will work – CNBC
- Biggest Mall Operator in U.S. Plans to Reopen 49 of Them – The New York Times
- Simon Property to reopen malls and outlets across the nation – Atlanta Journal-Constitution
- Simon Property Group Temporarily Closes All Domestic Properties – Simon Property Group
- Are retailers and landlords destined to head to court over rents? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will shoppers go to malls once they reopen? Do you think Simon Property Group is taking the proper precautions to safeguard the health of shoppers and workers in these facilities?