Malls, Retailers Shut Down Amid Pandemic

by Alex Tostado

Simon and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield announced Wednesday they were closing all malls until March 29. The American Dream Mall closed on March 16, postponing an opening preview of the Dreamworks Water Park. Mall of America closed on March 18 and will remain closed through the end of the month. Taubman announced it was closing its malls on March 19 and would keep them closed through March 29 unless recommendations from state or federal government require they remain closed longer. Some of Taubman’s retailers with exterior-facing storefronts would be permitted to remain open at their discretion, according to the company.

The decisions were made after developers were called on to act, via actions such as the trending hashtag #closethemalls and a Forbes article urging malls to show leadership during the coronavirus pandemic. Before the decision to close completely, many malls and retailers hosted abbreviated hours as well as seniors-only hours and increased sanitizing practices. But ultimately the risk of remaining open was too great.

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) sent a letter to U.S. and Canadian officials asking for support during the COVID-19-caused shutdowns. Other mall closings are occurring due to government mandates. Oakland County, Michigan, part of the Detroit metropolitan area, ordered its malls and playgrounds to close Monday, as the county has the most confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan with approximately 225.

The states that have ordered residents to shelter-in-place or non-essential businesses to close include Ohio; Louisiana; Delaware; California; New York; New Jersey; Illinois; Connecticut; Kentucky; and Michigan. Philadelphia ordered its residents to stay home Monday. St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, have issued stay-at-home orders, as has Atlanta, New Orleans, San Miguel County, Colorado, Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, and Blaine County, Idaho.

Shelter-in-place mandates have not only halted retail, they have halted e-commerce, as distribution and fulfillment centers are required to close as well, according to Glossy.

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