Simon Property to close U.S. malls, retail outlets as coronavirus spreads

Simon Property Group Inc (SPG.N), America’s biggest mall operator, said on Wednesday it would temporarily close all its retail properties, including the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, to tackle the fast-spreading coronavirus.

The health crisis, which has taken the lives of over a 100 in the United States, has forced many retailers including Macy’s (M.N) and J.C. Penney (JCP.N) to close stores as consumers distance themselves from crowded places and remain indoors.

Simon, which has retail properties in 37 states and makes its income from 204 properties, said it made the decision after discussions with federal, state and local officials.

“We are taking this step to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” Chief Executive Officer David Simon said in a statement.

Stores will remain closed till March 29, the company said.

Several retailers have said they would continue to sell goods through their e-commerce platforms and even accommodate click-and-collect for online purchases.

Mall-based retailers have for years been struggling with falling traffic as consumers shift to online shopping and look for a unique shopping experience.

Simon’s shares, which have lost more than half of their value from the start of the year, were down about 24% on Wednesday amid broader market losses.

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