New Mexico malls prepare to reopen for holiday shopping under new restrictions

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Starting Wednesday, Dec. 2, malls can reopen under the public health order, but this holiday shopping season will look a lot different. As shopping centers prepare to reopen, shoppers should get ready to wait in long lines with strict capacity limits set in place.

Some malls like DeVargas Center in Santa Fe say while they missed hosting shopping deals on Black Friday, they know people have gifts to buy. Along with limited capacity, many will have services like curbside pickup.

“We’ve had to do this once before, actually, a couple times before, so we’re already fully prepared as far as it relates to signage, helping customers understand distancing,” said Katy Fitzgerald with DeVargas Center. “We’re certainly happy and thankful for the chance and we’ll do what we can to encourage customers back and hopefully shop small. DeVargas Center is full of eclectic, wonderful, long-term small businesses.”

According to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office, indoor malls fall under the ‘all other businesses’ category in the public health order. They say the capacity restriction applies as a whole to an indoor mall, not to each individual store inside, meaning the mall, itself, would be limited to 75 customers at a time.

“We’d like to be 100-percent open, but 25-percent, we’re able to manage,” said Randy Sanchez, general manager of Coronado Center. “Bring those numbers down so we can all go back to enjoying the shopping for the holiday season.”

The governor’s office says non-essential retail stores with exterior entrances at the malls — like Kohl’s and JCPenney — do not fall under the mall’s overall capacity limits. Instead, they have their own restrictions.

KRQE News 13 also reached out to Cottonwood Mall. General Manager Debra Sherman says they’re preparing to reopen.

“Cottonwood Mall has strong and frequent cleaning protocols in place and has reminded our guests of social distancing, covering both your mouth and nose with a face cover or mask and not to gather in groups,” said Sherman. “We have proactively implemented additions to the Code of Conduct, effective immediately and until further notice. We cannot wait to safely welcome back our guests and tenants.”

Many stores in shopping centers across the metro that had been closed over the last two weeks and started curbside pickup will continue the practice to limit people in their stores. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, 81-percent of U.S. holiday shoppers say they plan to buy gifts in-person this year.


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