What happened

The stock market ended the week on a positive note, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 up by 1.5% and 1.4%, respectively, as of 3 p.m. EDT. Mall operator Macerich (NYSE:MAC) was a particular standout, with the retail REIT's shares up by nearly 11%.

So what

Investors seem to be encouraged by several states starting to reopen their economies, as it appears that many retail properties will be allowed to open earlier than previously expected. This is especially true with outdoor (open-air) shopping centers.

Family shopping in a mall.

Image source: Getty Images.

On Friday, it was reported that Macerich was opening its Phoenix-area outdoor shopping centers. And while its indoor malls remain closed for the time being, tenants whose stores have street-facing entrances will be allowed to open. A Phoenix-area outlet property owned by fellow retail REIT Simon Property Group (NYSE:SPG) also announced it would open on Friday. Simon had previously opened 49 of its mall properties, most of them located in the Southeast. So, investors seem to be encouraged by reopenings in a completely different region.

Other mall and shopping center operators' stocks were up sharply as well, especially those whose properties are of an outdoor nature and should be able to open earlier in states' phased reopening plans. Outlet mall operator Tanger Factory Outlet Centers (NYSE:SKT), whose Arizona location opened on Friday along with the others mentioned earlier, was higher by 7%, and open-air shopping center leader Kimco Realty (NYSE:KIM) was up 9% after reporting solid first-quarter results.

Now what

We're still a long way from getting the economy back to normal, but this is definitely a step in the right direction for mall operators' return to normalcy. As malls are allowed to reopen in more locations across the U.S., investors could become even more optimistic about retail stocks.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.