4 Tips to Help Reopen Your Retail Center

Posted by Rick Charney on May 18, 2020

At the onset of the coronavirus, the economy shut down almost immediately. Millions lost their jobs. Many businesses closed their doors indefinitely. For weeks public health officials and politicians have been debating on when and how businesses can reopen. While timing seems to be a big contention, one thing is certain. Despite the speed at which things stopped, they will not restart that way.

Reopening a Retail Center Is A Slow, Challenging Process

Many states are slowly beginning the reopening process, but regulations vary. There is no question, store owners are anxious to get things started and consumers are grateful for a place to go. However, things may be different. What will it look like, how will it change? What does it mean for store and property owners?

For Simon Property Group, it means making a number of changes. Per a recent article from CNBC, business hours at the company’s malls and outlet centers will be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The earlier closing time will allow for overnight cleaning. In addition, all high-touch areas will be sanitized on a regular basis. They will also provide free temperature testing for their customers.

Making Changes at Your Retail Property

How will you handle the reopening of your property and what measures will you take to lure customers back? Here are 4 tips to help when it’s time for you to reopen your doors.

1. Make a Plan

What are your priorities? You should set clear objectives. Get input from your tenants and local health officials. You might need to alter hours of operation to comply with safety guidelines. Also include procedures in the event the COVID-19 virus surges again.

Additionally, it will be important for stores to revisit their business models. What worked before may not be conducive for the “new normal.”

Mark A. Cohen is director of retail studies and adjunct professor at Columbia Business School. He says, “Post pandemic, stores have to quickly repatriate their furloughed organizations and create an immediate now and future operating strategy to navigate recovery; adopting a ‘same old same old’ strategy could be a terrible mistake.”

2. Keep an open line of communication

Once your plan is in place and your reopening date is set, tell all relevant parties. Let them know your plans. Property managers should keep an open line of communication with tenants to share information and help prevent any issues that might crop up after reopening. In addition, keep your tenants informed on current CDC recommendations and government regulations.

3. Keep it clean

Ramp up cleaning practices and frequency, especially in public restrooms, on door handles, handrails, and children’s play areas. You might even consider closing the children’s area or altering it to allow for social distancing. Install hand-sanitizing stations throughout the property.

4. Operational Considerations

There are a host of operational items to consider. Do your tenants need to change walking patterns in their stores? Are they limiting the number of people who can enter? Are they offering curb-side pickup? If so, can the parking lot accommodate it? How can you help them resolve their social distancing efforts? If your property has been completely closed, be sure to test all restrooms, HVAC systems, escalators, and other mechanical systems to ensure they are working properly.

Below are some recommendations targeted specifically for retail and restaurant tenants.

For Retail Tenants

  • Ensure there is ample storage space for items that have been shipped
  • Make sure there are measures in place to disinfect those packages
  • Encourage tenants to place stickers on the floor indicating proper social distancing practices
  • If there are fitting rooms, be sure they are sanitized properly
  • Create contactless payment options

For Restaurant Tenants

  • Encourage the use of disposable utensils, menus, placemats, etc.
  • Create contactless payment options
  • Be sure they communicate with patrons If they are limiting the number of customers
  • Encourage frequent hand washing
  • Urge them to conduct health checks on every employee prior to their shift
  • Rearrange tables to comply with social distancing recommendations

As always, it is important to keep current on all CDC and local government recommendations.

There has never been a more uncertain time for the retail industry than right now. We know the safety of your property, tenants, employees, and customers is important to you. Stealth Monitoring is committed to helping protect these valuable assets. By working together, we can create a space where everyone feels comfortable.

If you would like information about our proactive monitoring solutions for your retail property, contact us.

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