While there were challenges of operating a business during the pandemic, retailers in the Meridian Mall have been able to sustain their business because of its transition to new customer service approaches.
“The closures also provided an opportunity for innovation,” said Stacey Keating, senior director of public relations & corporate communications at CBL Properties, the Tennessee-based company that owns the Meridian Mall. “Many retailers quickly launched curbside delivery programs and restaurants ramped up their delivery and curbside takeout options.
“New delivery and curbside programs are continuing to evolve and we expect this to be a trend into the holiday season and beyond. As restrictions were lifted and malls reopened, we’ve seen traffic slowly build, and retailers have reported that sales are healthy and conversion rates are high.”
Shoppers have more cash
Businesses in the mall credit part of the reason why the conversion rates — the percentage of users who visit the mall who purchase goods or services — are high is that people have more money in their pockets, said Kris Vezino, Meridian Mall Sunglass Hut Store manager.
The federal Paycheck Protection Program kept thousands of businesses afloat with hundreds of billions of dollars in loans and grants, Vezino said.
The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency reported that since March 15, nearly 2.3 million in Michigan have applied for state and federal benefits, with nearly $24 billion in benefits paid to 2.2 million workers.
The federal benefits in the pockets of shoppers helped businesses in the mall have better sales upon reopening.
“Since we’ve reopened, we’ve been doing better than normal compared to last year,” said Vezino. “The biggest thing was the cash influx. So many more people were spending cash that they normally didn’t have.”
The stores operate under a number of protective measures that allow them to complete in-store purchases safely while also following CDC guidelines for social distancing and hygiene practices.
A full list of protective measures can be viewed here. Shoppers in the mall have shown to be trusting of the protective measures being made by stores in the mall.
“We keep our masks on at all times and routinely sanitize,” said Vezino. “Through our new cleaning protocols, everything is being sanitized so much that people seem to care less than they did before the shutdown about buying the glasses that are on the display shelves and available for people to try on. I thought maybe people would be scared to handle the product but it had really been the exact opposite which has been surprising.”
Meridian Mall and other businesses operate while in the middle of a global pandemic, ensuring the safety of the communities around them.
“The health and well-being of our customers, employees, retail partners and the communities we serve is always a top priority,” Keating said.