As June 15 coronavirus reopens nears, malls brace for waves of shoppers – Daily News
For nearly a year, Los Angeles County malls have looked like ghost towns amid closures, restrictions and widespread stay-at-home orders. But with improving vaccination rates, the number of viruses falling and restrictions easing, visitors have flocked to retail centers.
As California prepares to fully reopen its economy on June 15, shopping malls are under pressure to adjust to high pedestrian traffic and accommodate more visitors.
“I don’t know if more people will start shopping just because June 15 is coming,” said Steven Sayers, senior general manager of Glendale Galleria. “But we have seen a continued recovery in demand for several months. More and more people are going out shopping.
Nearly 65% of consumers said last month that they would feel safe visiting a mall, a 7% increase from a few weeks ago, marking consumers’ confidence in in-person purchases, according to consumer research company Morning Consult, which conducts weekly surveys of approximately 2,200 adults nationwide.
Despite the increase in online shopping amid home orders, 45% of customers said they were excited to return to malls, the data showed.
Since January, there has been a 41% increase in foot traffic in stores and restaurants nationwide, according to data from Zenreach, which measures store visits. Southern California stores and restaurants have seen a 124% increase in in-person visits since January, data shows.
At the 2nd & PCH Outdoor Mall in Long Beach, foot traffic has mostly recovered and is near pre-pandemic levels, according to John Nahas, president of Southern California CenterCal Properties.
Nahas attributed some of the mall’s rapid recovery to the fact that it is not an enclosed space, but he also acknowledged that some essential businesses – like Whole Foods which anchors the property – have helped keep buyers to come even during the worst of the health crisis.
And now, as June 15 approaches, he said he expects the growth in customer numbers to continue.
“As we approach the expiration of the restrictions at Long Beach,” Nahas said, “we expect visits to increase further as our tenants will be able to accommodate a higher volume of customers.”
Although the new guidelines released in May do not specifically mention shopping malls, physical distancing or capacity limitations will no longer be required in all businesses, as of mid-June. Restrictions in restaurants and bars will be lifted and the state will align with the mask requirements of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to state directive.
Sayers said he did not anticipate any restrictions on occupation or social distancing, but did not expect clarity from the Department of Public Health until midnight on June 14.
“We have all grown used to dealing with uncertainty over the past year,” he said. “We would always like things to be certain because it’s easier to make a plan. “
Currently there are less than 200 seats in the Glendale Galleria food court and after mid-June the Sayers team planned to add more seats to the indoor and outdoor spaces. Hand washing stations and disinfectant dispensers, he added, will remain available for the foreseeable future. Retail stores inside the mall, he said, could still require visitors to wear masks even after June 15.
“Housekeeping and security will always wear masks, probably even if they are vaccinated just to give people that sense of security,” he said.
Paris-based Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, which operates 29 shopping centers across the country, including those in Sherman Oaks, Canoga Park, Century City and Culver City, said it was ready to return to full capacity later this this month.
“What we expect is a rebound in consumption very quickly,” said company CEO Jean-Marie Tritant in a recent appeal to investors. “The question for us is really to be prepared when there is an economic rebound.”
David Simon, CEO and Chairman of the Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, which owns the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, said on a recent earnings call that “2020 has been a tough year for everyone affected by COVID. -19, including our company. We are confident that we have taken the leap and expect growth in earnings and cash flow in 2021. ”
The company’s net income was $ 1.1 billion in 2020, or $ 3.59 per diluted share, a decrease of 17% due to lower income from tenant rent reductions, rising rents and falling sales, Simon said.
As the vaccination rate rises with nearly 50% of California adults having at least one dose, it remains to be seen whether foot traffic will return to pre-pandemic levels.
To fully reopen in mid-June, Los Angeles County must show it has an adequate supply of vaccines and maintains stable and low hospitalization rates.
As for June 15, a lot is still pending.
Los Angeles supervisor Kathryn Barger said during a recent discussion on tap-driven recovery policy hosted by the San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce that she did not know what the sanitary orders looked like. State, but it would encourage the county to reflect state guidelines.
“Businesses have been frustrated with the mixed message between state and county,” she said.
With the e-commerce boom during closures, malls and other physical stores are now under more pressure to reinvent themselves, but there is still a future for indoor malls, experts say.
“What you’re going to see is more experiences in shopping malls,” said Rachel Michelin, president of the California Retailers Association, during the on-tap policy discussion. Shopping malls are adding gyms, bowling alleys and other types of equipment to entice people, she said. Shoppers can find a restaurant inside a department store or a free glass of wine while they browse the shelves and shop.
Valley Industry and Commerce Association president Stuart Waldman said that while people have survived the past 12 months by ordering online, they are no longer willing to do so.
“There is something about going to a mall and walking around,” he said. “For anyone who grew up in Southern California, a mall is part of their life. “