Malls set to reopen in select states as safety concerns remain top of mind

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The days of crowding the parking lots and corridors of shopping malls feel almost like a distant memory as the coronavirus has shuttered the doors of shopping centers.

"The consumer behavior will take a while to adjust," says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist of the National Retail Federation.

Starting May 1, Simon Property Group, which owns King of Prussia Mall, will reopen 49 malls in 10 states across the country, which have not been as severely impacted by the virus.

Malls will reopen in Texas, Indiana, Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alaska and Mississippi.

Simon Property Group CEO David Simon is a member of President Donald Trump's advisory board to restart the economy.

Inside these malls, store hours will be limited, certain entrances will be closed and shoppers will be offered a mask and hand sanitizer at the door. They may even be asked to take a voluntary temperature screening.

Steven Brown works at a large clothing retailer in North Wales, Pennsylvania. He expects to see safety changes that last for a while.

"Definitely face masks and deeper cleaning. Limiting the people inside the store and the people in the fitting room," said Brown.

With added protection for shoppers and employees, reaction to the reopening of malls is mixed.

"America has got to get back to work, some way or another. Whatever way we can do it that keeps people safe and healthy it's important," says Robert Toporek of King of Prussia.

Wesley Robinson of Coatesville says health conditions will keep him away from crowds long after our area malls reopen.

"Me being black, with high blood pressure, sugar diabetes, no, I'm not going out. Not even taking that chance," says Robinson.
Retailers inside of malls can make their own decisions on whether to open stores.

Some argue that reopening shopping malls and stores will make a major impact on the suffering job market.

With 30 million Americans filing for unemployment, it's not clear how many will be rushing out to shop.

Simon Property Group has not yet set a reopening date for King of Prussia Mall.

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