Mall Closures, Movie Theater, Gyms, Casinos — Should Non-Essential Food Services Remain Open If The Goal Is To Flatten The Curve?
By Tina Traster
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed New York indoor malls to shut down at 8 p.m. Thursday.
The closure of malls has been like a set of dominoes falling, with major malls nationally, including Mall of America in Minnesota and King of Prussia in Philadelphia, as well as the new American Dream mall in New Jersey, all shuttering to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
On Wednesday, Cuomo said indoor malls, amusement parks and bowling alleys will temporarily close in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New Jersey. Also closed were movie theaters, gyms and casinos.
Let’s Just Bite The Bullet
Why don’t we just shut it all down – everything but nonessential services? Seems to be the prudent thing to do – or at least the only tactic we have to foster social distancing. Yes, it’s painful to retailers but if China and Singapore have gotten this right, and their draconian measures have flattened the curve and taken pressure off the medical system, then it’s our best strategy for now. The disease is expected to peak in about 45 days in the U.S., according to experts.
The states earlier this week announced that restaurants and bars would be limited to take-out and delivery service only. But does this make sense? It must be difficult for food preparers to remain six feet apart in most commercial kitchens and it continues to keep a portion of the public in circulation. The hard question to ask is whether this is an essential service.
In San Francisco, residents have been ordered to stay at home as part of a “shelter in place” effort, which has shut down discretionary shopping in the city, including at malls, according to local media reports.
One day in advance of New York’s state order to close all indoor portions of retail shopping malls, Simon Property Group announced its malls will close for business effective 7 p.m. Wednesday. The company said the decision was made after extensive discussions with federal, state and local officials and in recognition of the need to address the spread of the new coronavirus.
Shops at Nanuet, The Westchester, Woodbury Common Outlets — All Shuttered
Simon will close all of its retail properties, including malls, premium outlets and mills in the United States, according to a news release. The list in the Hudson Valley includes the Shops at Nanuet, The Westchester, White Plains, Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Central Valley.
Retail analysts said shuttered malls will be devastating at a time when malls have already been challenged and bankruptcies are rife.
“This is a devastating blow to B and C malls particularly where Sears is long gone, [J.C. Penney] is crippled and Macy’s is barely holding on,” retail analyst Nick Egelanian, president of retail development firm Siteworks. “This could well be the knockout blow for [J.C. Penney] and what’s left of Sears,” he said. “With most of the country headed for lockdown, this will get much worse for malls particularly.”