PHOENIX — A lot of malls opened back up this weekend in Arizona, with limited retailers and new social distancing rules.
Retailers at Kierland Commons, Biltmore Fashion Park, and SanTan Village in the Valley, as well as La Encantada in Tucson, opened their doors to shoppers last Friday.
With Arizona's stay at home order now expired, shopping centers like Arrowhead Towne Center, Chandler Fashion Center, Desert Sky Mall, Paradise Valley Mall, Scottsdale Fashion Square and Superstition Springs Center will be opening their doors starting Saturday.
"A lot of people wearing masks, everything six feet apart," said Halie Rocco, out at Scottsdale Fashion Square. "The stores that are open. They’re insane lines to get in. It’s taking a long time."
Even though the malls are open, not all retailers are opting to open their doors. Shoppers can find updated details on hours, which retailers and restaurants are open, plus curbside pickup and takeout service, on the shopping centers’ individual websites.
But some, like Nordstrom at Chandler Fashion Center, are keeping their doors closed for good. The company said the Chandler location is one of more than a dozen stores permanently closing due to COVID-19. Other companies like J.C. Penney and Neiman Marcus have filed for bankruptcy due to fallout from the virus.
With anchor stores sinking in the wake of COVID-19, can malls as a whole stay afloat?
A 2019 Yale study shows that shopping malls have been on the decline for more than a decade at the hands of online shopping.
In 2018, the report says almost 7,000 retailers shut their doors for good, leaving space in the malls that just aren’t being filled.
Now, with COVID-19 taking its toll on business, Hitendra Chaturvedi, professor of supply chain management at Arizona State University, says the future is fragile for shopping malls as we know them. He thinks that stores will shift to focus on experience, rather than in-store sales. And mall properties might have to rethink their space.
"Malls may become a place for flea markets and used products," Chaturvedi explained. "Many of these locations might turn into warehouses for delivery to your house, faster than the competition."
But shoppers at Scottsdale Fashion Square Sunday, out for the first time since the stay-at-home order expired, hope the brick and mortar stores don’t go out of style.
"During the summer we hit all the museums and this place because it’s hot," said Estril Wallace, out shopping with his two young daughters.
Plus, amid the pandemic, there’s a renewed novelty to getting out of the house.
"It’s just good to get out," added another shopper. "I haven’t been shopping in forever it seems. I think we appreciate it more now."
If you do plan to go out shopping, know that some retailers have new policies and hours due to COVID-19. Some might also require you to wear a mask.