ORLANDO, Fla. - Retailers have been given the green light to reopen Monday but its still not clear whether Central Florida malls will be welcoming customers back right away.
"We just don’t realize the complexity of retail…getting it back to 100 percent...," said Dr. Larry Barton, a UCF professor who specializes in public safety and crisis management. "It's not going to happen right away."
Managers at the Mall at Millenia and Altamonte Mall say they don’t have a date yet for reopening. Also no word on the Orlando International Premium Outlets, even though their owner Simon Property Group has announced nearly 50 locations reopening in other states.
"The way we shop, the way we engage with employees, working behind acrylic or plastic – everything is going to be different," said Barton.
He says malls will face several challenges before opening their doors again - everything from supply chain disruptions to getting masks for employees to wear. Plus in Florida, retailers are only allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity.
"Most retailers will be counting the number of people coming in and people leaving," Barton said.
But Barton says for malls that were struggling before the pandemic – it may be lights out for good.
"My expectation in terms of working with retailers everyday... probably about 20 percent of malls in the US will probably not reopen this year and close," Barton told FOX 35 News.
For the local malls expected to survive, their leaders could announce plans on Friday.
Tanger outlets in Daytona Beach already has announced its reopening. Lisa Serbaniewicz, a spokesperson for Tanger Outlets, said:
"As Florida begins a phased re-opening, we are working with our retail partners to create a shopping environment that prioritizes the well-being of our valued shoppers, retail partners and employees, in accordance with the latest guidance from government and public health officials. While Tanger Daytona Beach is currently open 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily, individual retailer store hours will continue to vary during this period of phased re-openings. As such, we encourage shoppers to check with individual retailers before planning a visit. The official re-opening “Welcome Back Event” will be May 15th."