By  on September 23, 2009

ATLANTA — Some retailers here are suffering because of torrential downpours and record flooding that have caused major disruptions and at least eight deaths.

There was reduced activity at a few malls that depend on major roads such as Interstates 75 and 85, which were partly shut as floodwaters trapped motorists in their cars during the evening rush hour on Monday. Schools across the region were closed on Tuesday.

The Arbor Place mall in Douglasville, which has 140 stores and is about 20 miles west of downtown Atlanta, closed Monday afternoon, although department stores such as J.C. Penney and Belk stayed open for regular hours.

“We let associates leave if they needed to,” said Dave Pernod, chairman of Belk Inc.’s Southern Division, which recently relocated its headquarters to the Atlanta area. “There was definitely a fallout in traffic…and consumers have sort of hunkered down here over the last couple of days.”

The Perimeter Mall, which features Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom and Dillard’s among its almost 200 stores and is 13 miles north of downtown, had “very light” shopper traffic Monday, said general manager Dennis Kemp. But he added school closings boosted activity Tuesday, particularly in the food court.

Storms have dropped as much as 20 inches of rain here and in other parts of Georgia in the last nine days, prompting. Gov. Sonny Perdue to declare a state of emergency in 17 of metropolitan Atlanta’s 28 counties and request federal aid. The flooding has hit both rural and urban areas, including Buckhead, a wealthy neighborhood near downtown Atlanta that is home to the luxury malls Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza, owned by Simon Property Group Inc. Neither mall reported problems, however.

The National Weather Service forecast more rain this week, but said the severity will decrease.

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