Cadillac Fairview, owner of 19 shopping centres in Canada, says it is not underestimating the importance of a well-thought-out plan as it prepares to reopen its space for non-essential retailers across the country.
“Given these uncertain times, we are focused on providing a high level of safety and comfort while ensuring our community is able to access the goods and services they require,” says the company on its website.
“COVID-19 will likely disrupt our lives for some time, and we’ve adapted our operations to reflect this new normal.”
Cadillac Fairview’s CF Polo Park shopping centre in Winnipeg was the first of its malls to have non-essential retailers reopen on Monday May 4.
Sal Iacono, Executive Vice President of Operations at Cadillac Fairview, said non-essential stores will reopen across the shopping centre portfolio dependent on the guidelines set out by each province.
“The occupancy level for the last month generally was less than five percent of all the retail area that we had available to us that was occupied by essential retailers,” he said.
“Effectively the malls looked closed, felt closed, and were closed because 95 percent of the retailers weren’t there. But at no time did Cadillac Fairview actually close the malls. We followed government decrees with regards to non-essential retailers being asked to close.”
Iacono said the company has prepared itself and worked with its clients for when it gets very clear information that it is allowed to reopen shopping centre space for the non-essential retailers.
“And that we do it first and foremost respecting what the local specific health guidelines require us to do,” he said.
“We want to do the right thing first. Secondly we want to inspire confidence both in our clients, our tenants, but also our clients who are shoppers that we are doing everything that we can possibly do to ensure that the experience is a safe and effective one.”
Iacono said Cadillac Fairview understands that not all of the retailers will be ready to go from day one.
“We’ll all have to be flexible with regards to what a return to business looks like. For example in Polo Park on Monday, the first day, we had approximately 25 percent of our retailers that opened up on opening day and we expect that by Monday May 11 it will be somewhere around half of all the retailers that we have there. And we expect that over the next week that number will increase from there and so on,” he said.
“We understand it will take some time. We also understand it will take some time for our customers to also start ramping their visits. One thing that we noticed this week is that obviously the people who are coming to shop are purpose driven. There is some pent-up demand that’s going to be exhibited over the next while. People are coming with specific goals in mind and the retailers are preparing themselves in that same fashion. There’s a willingness and a desire to try and get back to some normal level of business and activity but also incredibly mindful to do it in a safe, secure way.”
Cadillac Fairview has developed a template of sorts that will guide its reopening of non-essential retailers across the country:
Store operating hours
Initially, it will be offering limited store operating hours. Once reopened it will continue to evaluate store operating hours and update as required but it expects most operating hours to be Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (to be confirmed locally).
It said protecting employees, visitors, and the general public is of utmost concern. Best practices will be geared toward ensuring a high level of comfort and educating everyone on new protocols, particularly as adapted for individual properties.
Increased cleaning and hygiene practices
Enhanced cleaning practices will continue and there will be clear signage reinforcing the importance of proper handwashing and staying home when ill. Hand sanitizer stations will be located throughout the shopping centre.
If a retail client or CF employee tests positive for COVID-19, or has possibly come in contact with a suspected case, there will be “robust” procedures in place to ensure prompt notification and precautions will be undertaken that could include sending employees home and deep cleaning of impacted areas.
Retail clients will also be urged to have protocols and screening in place to ensure employees who are ill are not coming into work and/or leave in a timely manner.
Physical distancing measures
This will be supported by extensive signage. There will be controlled access to the mall as management monitors the density and number of shoppers in the centre. This could include limiting the number of shoppers in the mall.
The mall will actively manage safe traffic with a number of initiatives including creating one-way traffic in common areas where required, creating clear lanes onto escalators and dividing mall entrances into entry only and exit only doors.
Shopping centre amenities
Guest Services will be open during mall hours. CF SHOP! Cards can be purchased at Guest Services through contactless point of sale.
The CF Lounge for retail employees will be paused until further notice. Nursing rooms will be open but with controlled access and cleaning procedures after each use.
Dining halls will not offer reusable products such as trays, plates, and cutlery. Clients will be asked to use single-use take out supplies only. Seating will either be removed to comply with local guidelines and/or reconfigured to allow for physical distancing. Distancing practices will also be in place for lineups.
Curbside pickup will be offered.
CF Front Door will be an innovative platform helping connect job seekers and retailers with employment opportunities. And the company will be investing in a social media campaign to drive traffic to the platform.