The biggest mall operator in the country will reopen 49 of its locations in 10 states starting on Friday – marking the first time major shopping centers will open their doors during the coronavirus pandemic.
Simon Property Group, whose CEO David Simon sits on President Trump’s ‘brain trust’ committee of the nation’s top executives charged with reopening the economy, released plans for how it will run its malls in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak in an April 27 memo.
Simon Property says it’s preparing to open some malls between Friday and Monday in 10 states: Texas, Indiana, Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alaska, and Mississippi.
All of those states have already started procedures to open or will reopen businesses by May 1, most at limited capacity.
Simon Property said it would provide free temperature testing, masks and sanitizing wipe packets to shoppers upon request and customers will be encouraged to wear masks or facial coverings during their shopping trips.
The openings come as anti-lockdown protests have broken out across the country including in some of the states where malls will reopen such as Texas, Indiana and Georgia, as unemployment skyrockets past 26million.
Simon Property Group, the biggest mall operator in the country, will open 49 mall locations in 10 states between Friday May 1 and Monday May 4. West Town Mall in Tennessee is one of the Simon malls that will open in the coming week
A chart of the list of states and their Simon Property Group malls that will open in May above
The malls will be open from 11am to 7pm every day except Sunday, when the hours will be 12 to 6pm.
Under the new plans security officers and employees will ‘actively remind’ shoppers to social distance and speaker announcements will urge customers to ‘maintain a safe environment for everyone’.
However, the success of reopening malls will depend on whether retailers are willing to reopen their doors and if the public feels safe enough to return to shopping centers as the coronavirus pandemic continues to grip the nation.
The company’s memo of its game plan to reopen was obtained by the New York Times and includes a 47-slide presentation formulating its reopening plan.
Simon Property, which is passed in Indianapolis, owned more than 200 properties in 37 states and Puerto Rico as of last year. Simon shut down all malls due to the COVID-19 outbreak on March 18.
The 10 states the malls will open in have already begun or will also retail businesses to open – all at 25 to 50 percent capacity – by May 1.
Texas will enter its first phase of reopenings on Friday where all retail stores, restaurants and movie theaters will be allowed to reopen but must limit their capacity to 25 percent of their listed occupancy.
Woodland Hills Mall in Oklahoma is one of two Simon malls in the state that will open on May 1
Katy Mills Mall in Texas will open its doors on May in Simon’s reopenings
Haywood Mall in South Carolina is one of the centers to open on May 1
In Indiana lockdown orders are good through May 1. In Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp started to ease restrictions on April 24 opening gyms, bowling alleys and restaurants with caveats.
Under the new guidelines food court seating arrangements will encourage social distancing and reusable trays will be banned, play areas and drinking fountains will be closed, and in restrooms every other sink and urinal will be taped off.
Shoppers will see new signs detailing safety precautions and floor decals to direct traffic flow to maintain social distancing.
The presentation showed a taped-off urinal and maps for common areas marking strategic points to place hand sanitizer, seating, and ‘Temporarily Closed’ signs.
Entrances to the property will be limited and occupancy will be limited to one person per 50 square feet of space using traffic measuring technology.
It’s not clear if all retailers are on board to open their stores even if malls reopen. Macy’s, another Simon property tenant, has shut down all of its stores and hasn’t indicated plans to reopen any time soon. An empty Macy’s store parking lot pictured above in Paramus, New Jersey on March 30
Simon Property to open 49 malls in 10 states
Texas – 21 locations to open on May 1: Allen PO, Barton Creek, Broadway Square, Cielo Vista, Firewheel Town Center, Grande Prairie PO, Grapevine Mills, Houston Galleria, Houston PO, Ingram Park Mall, Katy Mills, La Plaza Mall, Lakeline Mall, Midland Park Mall, North East Mall, Rio Grande Valley PO, Round Rock PO, San Marcos PO, Shops at Clearfork, The Domain, University Park Village
Texas will allow retailers to open by May 1 at 25 percent capacity
Indiana – 10 locations to open on May 2: Castleton Square, Circle Centre Mall, College Mall, Fashion Mall at Keystone, Greenwood Park Mall, Hamilton Town Center, Indiana PO, Lighthouse Place PO, Tippecanoe Mall, University Park Mall
Retailers can open on May 1 but businesses must comply with social distancing and caveats
Georgia – 7 locations to open on May 1: Calhoun Outlet Marketplace, Lenox Square, Mall of Georgia/Village Shops, North Georgia PO, Phipps Plaza, Sugarloaf Mills, Town Center at Cobb
Businesses started to open April 24
Missouri –3 locations to open on May 4: Battlefield Mall, St. Louis PO, Osage Outlet Marketplace
Stay at home order lasts through May 3. Businesses must maintain six feet social distancing and limit capacity to 25 percent
Tennessee – 1 location to open on May 1: West Town Mall
Retailers can open Wed April 29 at 50 percent capacity
South Carolina – 2 locations to open on May 1: Gaffney Outlet Marketplace, Haywood Mall
Retail stores opened on April 20 at 20 percent capacity
Oklahoma – 2 locations to open on May 1: Penn Square Mall, Woodland Hills Mall
Retailers opened on April 24
Arkansas –1 location to open on May 1: McCain
Alaska – 1 location to open on May 1: Anchorage 5th Ave
Businesses opened April 24 with restrictions
Mississippi – 1 location to open on May 1: Gulport PO
Retailers started to reopen with social distancing at 50 percent capacity
Retailers will be encouraged to make contactless transactions using options like Apple Pay.
Gap Inc, which runs its own namesake brand, Athleta, Banana Republic and Old Navy, said Tuesday it will not open any of its stores this weekend.
Macy’s, another Simon property tenant, has shut down all of its stores and hasn’t indicated plans to reopen any time soon.
Under the reopening guidelines Simon Property employees, contractors and vendors will be required to take their temperature before work and stay home if they have a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher or if they have flulike symptoms.
They will also wear face masks and be ordered to social distance.
In Asia, where the coronavirus outbreak first struck, all shopping malls require temperature checks for customers.
Since the outbreak a little over 45 percent of consumers say they’ll avoid shopping centers and malls even after the lockdown ends, according to a Coresight Research study.
While opening stores is a controversial move for the public, it could be life-saving for businesses.
Department store Nordstrom has warned that its financial situation could become distressed due to closures. Gap said last week it did not pay rent in April and does not have enough cash to stay afloat for the next year.