Malls have mixed reaction to expanded pickup

Posted at 5:22 PM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 20:22:58-04

SAN DIEGO — Shopping malls across San Diego County officially have the green light to expand their curbside pickup, but many aren't jumping at the chance.

That's keeping thousands of able retail workers home.

Governor Newsom and County officials say shopping centers are now allowed to offer pickup for non-essential retailers such as bookstores and clothing stores.

But some of the area's biggest mall operators, such as Westfield and Simon (which operates Fashion Valley) have not announced any plans to expand beyond pickup for essential services, like restaurants and optical stores.

Juan Rose III, who directs property management at commercial real estate firm CBRE, said malls thrive when people come to the property and stay for an extended length of time.

"Whether it's a little bit of time at your bookstore, or stop into Target and do a honey-do list and maybe have dinner, it's an experience," he said.

Other retail centers have already expanded their pickup offerings, including One Paseo in Del Mar Heights.

The center has dedicated 11 parking spots for pickup, increased sanitation efforts, and is requiring staff to wear personal protective equipment.

But the transition has not been easy for retailers who depend on foot traffic.

Ariel Hujar co-owns the boutique clothing and home good shop Whiskey and Leather at One Paseo. She's done about 15 pickup sales so far, but said it pales in comparison to her normal business.

"It's just not the same as people coming in and then they see one thing and they see another," she said. "It's just different shopping online than it is in our store."

Hujar said she had to let almost all of her 19 employees go, but hopes to hire them back now that she has secured the proper stimulus loans.