Simon Property Group, the biggest mall owner in the United States, will reopen 49 of its shopping centers in early May — potentially bringing 13 now-shuttered Apple Stores back online.
The locations span across seven states, in major cities including Atlanta, Oklahoma City, Indianapolis and Austin, Texas.
An internal memo obtained by CNBC disclosed the mall reopenings, which will take place in the first week of May. It remains unknown if the 13 stores at Simon Property malls are among those Apple is currently considering to reopen. Deidre O’Brien, Apple’s VP of retail, recently told employees that “many” Apple Stores will reopen sometime next month. However, she did not give a specific date.
Which Apple Stores does this potentially cover?
Of the 49 malls reportedly scheduled to reopen, there are 13 Apple Stores that potentially could restart operations in Simon-owned properties. With links to Apple Stores, they include:
Mall openings: May 1
Anchorage, Alaska – Apple Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall
Atlanta, Georgia – Lenox Square
Buford, Georgia – Mall of Georgia
Oklahoma City – Penn Square Mall
Tulsa, Oklahoma – Woodland Hills Mall
Greenville, South Carolina – Haywood Mall
Knoxville, Tennessee – West Town Mall
Austin, Texas – Barton Creek
El Paso, Texas – Cielo Vista Mall
Houston, Texas – Houston Galleria
Fort Worth, Texas – University Park Village
Mall openings: May 2
Indianapolis, Indiana – The Fashion Mall at Keystone
Mishawaka, Indiana – University Park Mall
All of these stores are located in states where local governments have begun to relax lockdown procedures for businesses starting in May.
This is only a fraction of the 270 Apple Stores in the United States. Apple has not yet announced a date for their official reopening.
There is, of course, a chance that the 13 Apple stores will remain closed when Simon Property Group reopens its malls in these states. However, given that other stores will start retail operations at this time, it would make sense for Apple to do so as well.
Malls to put protective measures in place
Business hours at the reopened Simon Property Group malls and outlet centers will be limited to 11 a.m. through 7 p.m., Monday to Saturday. They will also be open noon through 6 p.m. on Sunday. The reduced hours will allow for overnight deep cleaning.
The memo obtained by CNBC notes that Simon Property Group will:
“[R]egularly be sanitizing high-touch areas like food court tables, escalators, door knobs and electronic directories. And it is encouraging retailers to do the same in their stores.”
In addition, the malls will make free temperature tests available to customers who want them. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-approved masks and hand-sanitizing products will also be available to shoppers free of charge. Shoppers will be encouraged to wear masks or some other facial coverings. Employees of the mall, meanwhile, will be mandated to wear masks and wash their hands frequently.
Social-distancing measures also will be implemented, including covering up alternating sinks and urinals in restrooms, and putting down markers to direct pedestrian traffic flow. The malls will close off drinking fountains and limit seating in food courts. Traffic-measuring technology will be used to ensure that occupancy does not exceed one person per 50 square feet of space. Retailers are advised to promote the use of contactless payment technology such as Apple Pay.
On top of that, Apple could institute its own sanitization procedures within its stores. When Apple reopened its first stores in China, it introduced temperature checks and required shoppers to wear masks in order to enter.
Apple’s decision to close Apple Stores
Apple made the decision to close all its retail stores outside Greater China on March 14 due to the coronavirus pandemic. If U.S. Apple Stores reopen in early May, this will mean they’ve been closed for a total of seven weeks. The company already reopened its stores in China, along with its sole retail outlet in South Korea.