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Macerich's 20 Assets Fully Open, Curbside Pick-Up in Few Others

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Macerich (MAC - Free Report) recently announced that 20 of its major retail properties, including 11 in Arizona, are now fully open. Moreover, by the end of May, the company expects to open a total of roughly 35 centers and further anticipates reopening of a vast majority of its centers by the middle of June.

Among the 11 stores that are now open in Arizona are Arrowhead Towne Center, Biltmore Fashion Park, Chandler Fashion Center, Desert Sky Mall and some others. The company has implemented new protocols, including enhanced cleaning and sanitizing, social-distance queuing, path of travel, security, deliveries, furniture placement as well as some other relevant measures based on industry best practices and CDC recommendations. The company presently owns 51 million square feet of real estate comprising mainly interests in 47 regional shopping centers.

Notably, the escalating number of coronavirus cases forced retailers, including Macy’s (M - Free Report) , J.C. Penney and several others, to close their stores in order to contain the spread of the virus. Some of the retailers resorted to reduced store hours, while many others are keeping their e-retail operations running as consumers are now increasingly opting for online purchases. As a result, retail REITs, including Simon Property Group (SPG - Free Report) , Kimco Realty (KIM - Free Report) and several others, which have already been battling store closure and bankruptcy issues, are feeling the brunt because consumers are avoiding gathering in large public spaces.

However, Thomas O'Hern, the company’s chief executive officer, pointed out that "Local economies depend on us, and our retailers are eager and ready to open for business in a safe, carefully planned, well-executed manner." He mentioned that the company’s centers generate employment for more than 110,000 people nationwide. Further, the portfolio makes $1.1 billion in sales tax revenues and $225 million in property taxes. These support essential services in turn.

Furthermore, the coronavirus pandemic has made local grocery, pharmacy and essential physical brick and mortar retail all the more important. Amid these, apart from the fast adoption of the e-commerce platform, curbside pick-up, combined with click and collect options, are likely to gain attention.

In case of curbside pick-ups, customers are allowed to place the orders online or over phones. They later drive to the location and the items are delivered to their car trunks or kept outside for pick up. This is viewed as a modification to the “order online, pick up in-store” that retailers had earlier taken.

Such efforts are likely to add competitive advantage to the retailers and retail landlords in current times. In fact, according to Macerich, several retailers have already reported about catering to thousands of curbside/online pick-up orders daily and are requesting for providing this service even subsequent to reopening of all business.

Therefore, for many centers of the company which are not yet fully open in keeping with guidelines set by local health authorities, "curbside pick-up" is currently offered for Fresno Fashion Fair, Inland Center, Mall of Victor Valley, The Oaks and some other properties in California. Such services are also provided for Deptford Mall and Freehold Raceway Mall in New Jersey, FlatIron Crossing in Colorado.

Currently, Macerich carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Shares of this retail REIT have depreciated 67.8% in the past three months, wider than the 34.8% decline recorded by the industry.

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