BUFORD — The Mall of Georgia reopened on Monday, May 4 after having been closed for 45 days due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Simon Property Group, the owner of the Mall of Georgia and six other malls in the state, had originally planned on reopening on Friday but for an unspecified reason was delayed until Monday.

Crowds were nonexistent on Monday as the Mall of Georgia reopened. Photo – Alicia Couch Payne

Many are curious about the size of the crowd, sanitation efforts, measures to follow social distancing guidelines, and which retailers are open. There were people who decided to brave the craziness which is the Mall of Georgia. The crowd at the mall could hardly be described as a crowd.  It was more like a few people here and a few friends there walked through the doors.

One of many signs placed throughout the mall to remind shoppers to practice social distancing measures. Photo – Alicia Couch Payne

Those that did decide to brave the mall were greeted with signs herding people in an effort to encourage people to maintain social distancing.  Signs clearly marked the entrances and exits, as well as, arrows were placing on the floors to keep foot traffic flowing in one direction per side of the wide corridors.  More signs telling shoppers to “Stay Safe. Please stay 6 ft. apart.” were posted on columns and walls throughout the facility.  Simon also had larger signs telling shoppers the measures they are taking to help ensure their safety.  Those measures are:

  • Employees with a fever or cold and flu-like symptoms such as a cough, sore throat, runny nose, or body aches are required to stay home.
  • Masks and daily temperature testing are required for employees.
  • Masks, sanitizing wipes, and temperature testing are available for shoppers at the Mall Office.
  • Regular disinfecting of the common areas, particularly busy locations such as restrooms, seating, dining, and play areas.
  • Sanitizer stations in the common areas.
  • We have completed testing confirming the air quality in our centers is superior to the air outside.
  • Encouragement of social distancing practices, including the use of distancing markers and extra space between seating.
  • Signage reminding shoppers and employees of safety precautions recommended by the CDC.
Von Maur was one of two of the big anchor stores that opened up shop on Monday. Photo – Alicia Couch Payne

Walking the halls of the mall, store after store remained closed as of Monday afternoon.  Only Von Maur and Macy’s were open among the big anchor retailers although Dillards said they would be open on Tuesday.  Most national chain retailers such as Old Navy, Gap, Bath & Body Works, Victoria’s Secret, etc remained closed.  Shoppers had very few options but the options they had taken extra precautions to increase shoppers’ safety including limiting the number of shoppers allowed in the store at one time.  Food options were extremely limited as well as only a handful of the mall’s food vendors decided to open.  Red Robin and Wild Wing Cafe remained closed. The majority of the restaurants in the food court chose not to reopen yet.

Few food vendors were open to mall patrons on Monday. Photo – Alicia Couch Payne

Speaking with employees in the stores that reopened along with the mall on Monday said that they had a nice steady stream of shoppers all day with the peak of traffic coming between 2 and 3 p.m.  Those who ventured out to the mall were able to score some really nice deals as retailer after retailer put their merchandise on sale or clearance.

Simon Property Group malls all have reduced operating hours for now.  Their operating hours are Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

It was truly eerie to see the mall so empty and closed up during the middle of the day.  Only time will tell as to when and if shoppers will see life at the mall return to normal.

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