COVID-19

Running a mall, in a time of social distancing

Kai Ryssdal and Bennett Purser Mar 13, 2020
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People walk through a Manhattan shopping mall on Jan. 30, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
COVID-19

Running a mall, in a time of social distancing

Kai Ryssdal and Bennett Purser Mar 13, 2020
People walk through a Manhattan shopping mall on Jan. 30, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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As more officials urge the public to practice social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic — avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining distance from others when possible — what does that mean for malls and shopping centers?

For years, getting customers in the door has been challenging for many malls, even without a health crisis. Alana Ferko manages the Butte Plaza Mall in Butte, Montana. She spoke with “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal about how she’s feeling about the latest events surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak. While there are no confirmed cases yet of the virus in the state, the governor has declared a state of emergency as a precaution.

Ferko recently grappled with cancelling an upcoming concert at the mall with a traveling band, part of the town’s St. Patrick’s day celebration.

“We were in the midst of canceling their performance here, because I just couldn’t put the public at risk,” Ferko said. “But they themselves, god bless them, they canceled their trip to Butte.”

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out recently from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

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