Fla. Retail Endures Frances

Having been pounded by hurricane Frances, Florida retailers, many closed since Thursday afternoon, began opening where possible on Monday.

Aventura Mall, in north Miami Beach, reopened Sunday at noon, with around 80 percent of stores prepared to do business. About 20 percent were still without power Monday and some employees were unable to report to work, said a spokeswoman for the Mall, which is anchored by J.C. Penney, Sears, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Burdines.

Shopping centers that reopened on Sunday reported strong traffic due to pent-up demand, although most people seemed to be more interested in eating than buying clothing and other products.

“Sunday was phenomenal,” the Aventura spokeswoman said. “People were stir crazy after being inside for so long. The food court was packed, but sit-down restaurants were closed, due to power outages and food purveyors not being able to deliver over the weekend.”

Monday was slower and more sporadic than normal, although some people were shopping and taking advantage of Labor Day sales, the Aventura spokeswoman said. Other than debris and shrubbery blown around entrances, the mall was not damaged.

Taubman Centers closed on Thursday afternoon included The Falls and Dolphin Mall in Miami and the Mall at Wellington Green in Wellington, Fla. near Palm Beach. By noon on Sunday, The Falls and Dolphin Mall had reopened. The Mall at Wellington remained closed Monday due to power outage and International Plaza in Tampa was closed Sunday and Monday because of the tail end of the storm, said a spokeswoman for Taubman, adding that damage to the malls has been has been minimal.

Bloomingdale’s in Boca Raton opened Monday at the usual time and an Orlando unit was expected to open at 11 a.m.

“Those stores survived the hurricane with no damage,” said a Bloomingdale’s spokeswoman. “There was some damage to the Gardens in Palm Beach, which is being assessed to determine when it can reopen.

“Obviously the hurricane impacted the Florida business,” the Bloomingdale’s spokeswoman said.

The Gardens had been closed since Friday. The local fire department said there was still no electricity Monday and the center would probably open some time this week.

Mizner Park, an outdoor shopping and entertainment complex in Boca Raton, remained closed Monday. “They had a lot of trees down, a lot of damage,” said Neil Evangelista, public information officer for the city of Boca Raton. He did not know when the center would reopen.
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