Chattanooga retailers reboot stores amid COVID-19 to woo shoppers

Staff photo by Mike Pare / Shoppers walk in and out of one of the entrances at Hamilton Place mall on Tuesday. Mall owner CBL Properties says 75% of stores inside the mall have reopened.

Carolyn Shell said that Tuesday was her first foray inside Hamilton Place mall since the shopping center reopened nearly three weeks ago after shutting down in March due to COVID-19.

But even that visit was a short one as the Hixson woman wanted to make a purchase at bookseller Barnes & Noble. The store was still closed to walk-in business, though it offered curbside pickup for online sales.

Despite closures of the bookstore, JCPenney, Dave & Buster's, Bath & Body Works and other key retailers, shoppers are slowly returning to the mall as more stores reopen with Memorial Day coming up.

CBL Properties, which operates the mall, estimates that about 75% of retailers are back.

"We've seen more openings including the reopening of a number of national retailers," said Stacey Keating, CBL's senior director of public relations and corporate communications.