Malls to reopen, but what can shoppers expect?

Shopping centers suffer layoffs, closures while closed


It’s been five months since anyone in New York City said, “Get in loser, we’re going shopping.”

And when consumers return to New York City malls beginning next week, many will find the experience has changed.

Malls, which yesterday were allowed to reopen in the city Sept. 9, have faced a reckoning during the pandemic, beaten down by lengthy closures and anchor store bankruptcies.

The reopening rules in New York forbid loitering and congregating, which means no food courts and no hanging out. And capacity will be limited to 50 percent.

One thing shoppers will not notice is the special filters to keep coronavirus particles from being recirculated by the air-conditioning, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo required as a condition of reopening.

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At Manhattan Mall, J.C. Penney, the anchor store, closed in July as the chain laid off its 304 employees there and all 142 at its Kings Plaza location in Brooklyn, which will close for good Sept. 27. The once-mighty retailer filed for bankruptcy in May.

At Hudson Yards, several stores have shuttered during the pandemic including the high-end mall’s anchor, Neiman Marcus. TAK Room and Bouchon Bakery also announced closures. Mall owner Related is now offering space there to office tenants.

For other malls, debts have begun to accumulate. Empire Outlets has missed payments on an $8.5 million loan from the city’s Economic Development Corporation, although the complex has been open — which was permitted because its stores have exterior entrances.

The five boroughs are home to about two dozen malls, a small number for a city of 8.4 million people. They include Atlantic Center in Brooklyn, the Staten Island Mall, Bay Plaza Shopping Center in the Bronx, Queens Center and Queens Place in Elmhurst, Rego Center in Rego Park and Flushing Mall.

Outside of the city, where malls were allowed to open in July, Palisades Center Mall had to come to a forbearance agreement on a $389 million CMBS loan.

Contact Sasha Jones at