Belk department stores are preparing to get back in business — and soon.
Belk stores in South Carolina and Arkansas will reopen May 1 after being closed for weeks due to COVID-19. The maneuver makes Belk the first major retailer of the “nonessential” variety to announce a return to brick-and-mortar operation.
On Monday, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina issued an order indicating that nonessential stores could begin to reopen on Tuesday, April 21. That’s when Belk released a statement to WWD indicating, “To help protect our Belk community, we are following all recommended precautions from local health officials and the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] as we begin the reopening process. Stores will begin by opening from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and we will be limiting the number of people in the store to ensure social-distancing standards are observed. We recently launched curbside pickup at select stores, including all stores that will be open in May, which offers an additional limited contact shopping option.”
The company added that stores will reopen by geographical area “based on local and state protocol and will continue to adhere to the guidance of the CDC and local health authorities. We anticipate additional store openings in more states the first week in May.”
The 130-year-old, private equity-owned Belk, based in Charlotte, N.C., operates 35 stores in South Carolina and seven stores in Arkansas.
Macy’s has not yet decided on when to open its one and only store in South Carolina, located in Columbia.
“We look forward to reopening our stores and welcoming back our colleagues and customers,” said a Macy’s spokeswoman. “As we plan to reopen, we are looking at a number of factors, including state and local government ordinances. We anticipate that not all stores will reopen at once, with openings staggered based on geographic recoveries.”
McMaster’s reopening order applied to nonessential stores including department stores, flea markets, florists, bookstores and music shops. Grocery stores, pharmacies, home improvement stores and medical facilities have been allowed to stay open during the pandemic.
The governor did put certain restrictions on the reopenings, insisting each store will be limited to five customers per 1,000 square feet of retail space or 20 percent of occupancy, whichever is less, according to media reports in the state.
Dillard’s currently has temporarily closed all of its stores but is anticipating beginning to reopen stores in the beginning of May, though no specific date has been set yet, according to a Dillard’s associate.
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