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Outlets of Mississippi

Shoppers are on a mission, metro retailers say

Renaissance at Colony Park.

By JACK WEATHERLY

Major shopping centers in metro Jackson are moving toward full reopening as the state continues to loosen the constraints imposed on businesses to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. Census Bureau said on May 15 that retail sales in the nation’s brick-and-mortar stores fell 17.8 percent in April from a year earlier due to the lockdown of state economies.

But shopping centers in metro Jackson are singing a more-upbeat tune since that report.

Shoppers are more intent on buying, rather than just looking, according to the local retail centers.

Forty-eight of the 63 businesses in the Outlets of Mississippi will have opened by the end of this week, said general manager Kathy Hacksaw.

The stores are doing better than they had expected, Hacksaw said. “The people who are coming are shopping” instead of browsing, she said.

The open-air mall does not require masks for shoppers, though some of the stores do, she said. The children’s playground reopened last weekend, she said.

Roughly 60 percent of the 120 tenants in Northpark mall, the state’s largest, are open, according to Christy Pender, director of marketing and development.

Dillard’s and Belk, two of the three anchores at Northpark have reopened since temporarily closing.  J.C. Penney, the other anchor, is at least temporarily closed. The retailer says it will shed 30 percent of its stores in a bankruptcy reorganization, though it has not disclosed which stores.

About 90 percent of the 37 retail and restaurant tenants in Highland Village in Jackson have reopened, according to Lynsie Armstrong, marketing director. On June 3, Lululemon and Vineyard Vine will reopen, along with Bravo!, she said.

In some regards, “we’re incredibly healthy,” Armstrong said, adding that because of the demands on creativity, the tenants are “stronger than ever.”

Sales are strong because most people come to actually buy something, rather than just window shop, she said. That, she said, is unusual.

Forty of the tenants at Renaissance at Colony Park in Ridgeland have reopened, with five more by the end of this week, said Jan Mattiace, marketing director for the open-air mall.

That includes CAET’s and Local 463 restaurants by the end of the week, Mattiace said. P.F. Chang’s restaurant “is not permanently closed. Operations are temporarily suspended, but plans are to reopen at a later date,” an email from corporate headquarters said.

Inland National Real Estate Services of Oak Brook, Ill., owner of the Dogwood Festival in Flowood, said in an email on Thursday that 22 of 32 tenants in the shopping center were open. . On April 9, only eight were open.

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About Jack Weatherly