Simon will use tech to track occupancy for mall-reopening strategy

Giant REIT will welcome back shoppers at 49 malls in 10 states, mostly in South

Simon Property Group’s David Simon (Simon by Mireya Acierto/Getty Images; iStock)
Simon Property Group’s David Simon (Simon by Mireya Acierto/Getty Images; iStock)

Simon Property Group intends to reopen 49 malls in 10 states across the country, and has a detailed plan that includes deploying tracking technology to welcome shoppers while adhering to prescribed safety measures.

The giant mall REIT will start opening its shuttered shopping centers on Friday, according to the New York Times, which obtained internal documents that outlined plans. The documents included how the company would make sure employees and shoppers were maintaining safe distances to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

It remains unclear how many retailers within those shopping centers will have stores up and running. The designated malls are largely located in Texas, Indiana, Georgia and Missouri. Retailers Gap Inc. and Macy’s have said they will not be reopening any stores.

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Simon, which is the country’s largest mall operator, announced it would close its malls on March 18. At the end of the month, it furloughed 30 percent of its workforce.

Some of the measures that will be taken at the reopened malls include technology to track mall occupancy to ensure the target of “one person per 50 square feet” is met, according to the Times. There will be free temperature testing, and masks and sanitizing wipes will be available for shoppers, according to the report. Mall employees, vendors and contractors will be expected to remain off the job if they have a fever of at least 100.4 degrees or show any other symptoms. Regular announcements will remind shoppers to practice “Healthy Shopper Habits” by keeping their distance.

Simon Property, which is also the largest retail real estate investment trust, had around 4,500 employees as of December. CEO David Simon said he would eliminate his salary until the pandemic subsides, and managers would have their salaries cut up to 30 percent. [NYT] — Erin Hudson

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