Simon Property Group, the biggest mall retailer in the U.S., said it plans to have around half of its locations open within the next week, chief executive David Simon said in an earnings call Monday (May 11).
The change comes as many states are beginning to reopen some of their functions. Simon Property Group has seen losses of 20.2 percent in the quarter ending March 31 as social distancing and virus fears set in in mid-March.
Simon told analysts that he thought it was time to help the local communities by reopening, “because frankly they depend on our sales taxes,” he said, according to CNBC.
The retailer, which lays claim to Boston’s Copley Place and Seattle’s Northgate Mall, among around 200 others across the country, closed its stores March 18 as the rest of the country began to realize the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
As of Monday, Simon had reopened 77 properties in areas where the restrictions were eased by local governments. The retailer plans to implement restrictions to help stem the virus’ spread, such as six-foot social distancing, enforcing reduced capacity, limiting open hours and handing out masks to visitors.
Simon said he had been encouraged by the turnout thus far at the already-reopened stores.
However, his optimism could end up being short-lived, as people have indicated in recent PYMNTS surveys that they are by and large not terribly eager to return to life while there’s still a possibility they’ll contract the coronavirus. Many people have grown accustomed to digital shopping and may not return to physical spaces hastily.
But despite the general decline of the physical retail space when compared to eCommerce, malls need not necessarily ready themselves for death. Those in charge of the malls will begin to consider other, newer types of tenants focusing more on entertainment or experiences rather than traditional retailers of the past.