SAN DIEGO — There’s a new normal for shopping, where malls that were once ghost towns are starting to get a steady flow of masked shoppers who are spread out.
Westfield Malls are experiencing that as the business is back open for the first time since March due to the pandemic. The open Westfield properties include UTC, Mission Valley, North County, and Plaza Bonita.
"There's a little bit of something for everybody to do here as we reopen. It's a very inviting environment. It's open air. It's very safe,” said Ryan Perry, senior general manager at Westfield UTC.
Perry said so much about shopping will look the same, yet so much has changed.
“Face masks are required, and we're strongly encouraging the people as they enter the shopping center to always wear their face mask,” Perry said.
Westfield wouldn't allow News 8 to interview shoppers on property and directed News 8 to only show opened shops, although many businesses were still closed.
"You'll notice that not all of our stores are going to be open today. We're only opening about 35 to 40% of our stores today, and then many more will come on line within the next week,” Perry said.
Westfield customers will also spot foot markers on the brick walkway, showing shoppers where to wait and more signs saying "Thank you for practicing 6 feet social distancing.” Other signs stated "What we're doing to keep you safe” with five steps - listing employee health requirements, CDC guidelines, and the mall disinfecting routine.
“There’s increased sanitation throughout the shopping center. We're cleaning high touch point areas on a very frequent basis,” Perry said.
Day one brought in a slow trickle of masked shoppers carrying bags. Footlocker and Forever 21 seemed to be big hits, and Shake Shack remained a popular favorite, although customers could not dine in, but could order and pick up from the from door.
Retailers still have curbside delivery service available.
"Getting their employees back - the smiles on their faces of our retailers that we've seen has been - has been incredible," Perry said.
The mall has new hours, but those are subject to change within coming weeks, and each retailer has its own set of hours as well, so shoppers are encouraged to check the Westfield website.