Nation's largest mall owner planning to have half of centers reopened in next week

Nation's largest mall owner planning to have half of centers reopened in next week
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Simon Property Group, the nation’s largest mall owner, is planning to have about half of its centers reopened within the next week, it announced Monday.

Simon executives said they are preparing to reopen in locations that are loosening restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic in a phone call reporting the company’s quarterly earnings, CNBC reported. The mall owner, which owns about 200 malls and outlet centers in the country, has reopened 77 properties so far, according to a press release

“We are now leading the effort for these local economies to get back to business,” Chief Executive David Simon said during a call with analysts, according to CNBC. “We want to help these local communities ... because frankly they depend on our sales taxes.” 

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The company’s quarterly profits dropped 20.2 percent during the first quarter, which ended March 31, in the early weeks of most stay-at-home orders. After the release, Simon’s shares jumped up to 3 percent. 

The mall owner began reopening in South Carolina and Georgia on May 1 after temporarily closing all locations starting on March 18. Simon announced it would take precautions during its reopening like limiting hours, reducing mall capacity, removing some chairs at food courts and distributing masks to visitors. 

CEO Simon said the retailers that are reopening are “gaining market share” while others are “missing the opportunity,” according to CNBC.

Some retailers such as Macy's, Gap and Nordstrom have laid out their own plans for reopening, while some locations are permanently closing in response to the pandemic.

The company did not report how much was collected in rent from its tenants during the first quarter. Its net income in the quarter fell to $437.6 million from $548.5 million last year. Simon has suspended or eliminated more than $1 billion of expected expenses in new development and redevelopment, according to CNBC.

The coronavirus has infected more than 1.34 million people in the U.S., killing at least 80,684, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Protests have broken out across the country calling for economies to reopen, but many Americans still worry about reopening too early.