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Staff File Photo by Matt Hamilton / Visitors enter Hamilton Place mall on Friday, July 30, 2021, to take advantage of the first day of tax-free shopping. An official said traffic and sales have now surpassed 2019.

Four retailers new to the Chattanooga market are to open at Hamilton Place mall this summer as the region's largest shopping center reports that traffic and sales have rebounded from the pandemic.

"When we look at the numbers, we're surpassing what we were doing in 2019 in terms of traffic and sales," said Jason Heymann, the mall's marketing director.

Rose & Remington, Tradehome Shoes, Hollie Ray Boutique, and 96' Kickz will take up shop in the East Brainerd center, he said in a telephone interview on Friday.

"Online shopping only goes so far," Heymann said. "People want to touch, feel and discover again."

Rose & Remington offers women's clothing, accessories, gifts and home decor goods, according to the mall. Heymann said the retailer, which has stores in four states, will open in what formerly held Gap on the mall's upper level near Sephora at the top of the food court stairs.

Tradehome Shoes will locate across from Ann Taylor and near Bath & Body Works, according to the shopping center. Heymann said the store will occupy space that has held Star Perfume.

Hollie Ray Boutique, founded in 2016 by two sisters, offers women's clothing, the mall said, and will open on the upper level next to the Pandora store.

Lastly, 96' Kickz, a shoe store, will open on the lower level by Dick's Sporting Goods. Heymann said the company is based in Knoxville and the Chattanooga unit is its first outside that city. It's taking space that formerly held Foot Action, he said.

Heymann also said the Susan G. Komen "More Than Pink Walk" will come to Hamilton Place this fall. The walk hasn't happened in person for two years, he said, and is historically held in downtown Chattanooga.

In March 2020, Hamilton Place and Northgate malls, both owned by Chattanooga-based shopping center operator CBL Properties, shut down temporarily in response to then-Mayor Andy Berke's executive order to close all non-essential businesses to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

CBL Properties, its national portfolio of shopping centers stricken by similar actions at the time, in June of that year said there was "substantial doubt" it would continue to operate as a going concern within about a year.

In November 2020, CBL filed for federal bankruptcy court protection when its revenues were hammered by the coronavirus lock downs. The company reorganized and emerged from bankruptcy a year later and the retail sector nationally has crawled back as the pandemic eased.

Stephen Lebovitz, CBL's chief executive officer, said in May as the company posted first quarter earnings that the company saw significant year-over-year occupancy gains as well as positive tenant sales growth in its properties.

"Percentage rents, short-term income and collections were above expectations, contributing to double-digit NOI (net operating income) growth," he said in a statement. "While first-quarter leasing spreads were negative, we anticipate sequential improvement going forward, with higher occupancy and increasing demand driving more favorable terms."

The publicly traded company that owns and manages 95 properties in 24 states also increased its guidance for the full year.

Still, Americans trimmed their spending unexpectedly in May compared to April amid surging inflation, the U.S. Commerce Department reported this week.

U.S. retail sales slipped 0.3% last month, down from a revised 0.7% increase in April, according to the department.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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